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ASU Basketball: Lu Dort Shines on the Big Stage

Former Arizona State Devil Lu Dort showed the world what grit and perseverance look like.

The Cinderella story of Luguentz Dort came to a halt on Wednesday night, as the Houston Rockets defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in game seven of the first round of the NBA playoffs, 104-102.

Despite exiting earlier than he would have preferred, Dort indeed did his part in ensuring the Thunder went down swinging to a Rockets lineup that featured two respected MVP award winners in James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Dort tallied a team-high 30 points in Wednesday night’s loss while also tallying four rebounds and one assist to his night. Dort also shot an impressive 50% from behind the arc in OKC’s final game of the 2019/2020 season.

“It was tough, you know, going undrafted, and this team just gave me a lot of confidence,” said an emotional Dort following the game, reflecting back on what was nothing short of an impressive rookie campaign. “From the vets (such as) Chris, Dennis, Danilo, Steve-O… they just gave me a lot of confidence, and they really trusted me. It’s a blessing just to be here, me coming from Montreal, and being here with all these guys.”

From one former Arizona State Sun Devil to another, Harden shared his thoughts on Dort’s tough defensive play through the series.

“He’s worked his butt off,” said Harden in his post-game press conference. “Even since college when I would go back to Arizona State, he’d work his butt off and it’s showing. Obviously, he played extremely well tonight. On offense, he made a lot of shots, but he just plays his butt off. He doesn’t care about anything but playing hard, and as a young guy coming into this league, that’s all you can ask for. Learning how to play and learning defensive schemes and offensive schemes and the total package of being an NBA player is going to come. But he has the right mindset, just playing hard and balls to the wall, not caring what anybody thinks, so he’s going to have a great career.”

Dort’s rise to playing in the NBA has been one of true toughness and determination. After going undrafted following his sole season at Arizona State, Dort landed in Oklahoma City via a two-way contract. Dort emerged as OKC’s starting shooting guard in late January and hasn’t looked back since, playing tremendous defense and contributing on the offensive side of the ball when called upon. Dort signed a four-year, $5.4 million extension with the Thunder in late June.

Despite the losing effort on Wednesday night, Dort became just the third player in NBA history at the age of 21 or younger to score more than 25 points in a game seven. The other two players? Lebron James and Kobe Bryant.

While the jury is still out on Dort’s progress moving forward, it’s apparent the Arizona State product is prepared to work even harder than before to reach new possibilities in his career, possibilities that were simply just dreams a year ago.