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Darius Bazley Notches Solid Performance in Return to Action

After an ankle injury kept Darius Bazley out of OKC's previous five matchups, the former five-star prospect contributed quality minutes in his first game back.

Thunder forward Darius Bazley returned to the court on Monday night after an ankle injury sidelined the former first round pick for the past five games. Prior to Oklahoma City's contest against the New York Knicks, Bazley had not suited up since Nov. 9. 

The young forward looked confident in his first game back, supplementing a seven-point, three-rebound outing with an impressive showing on the defensive end of the floor. The 6-foot-8 Ohio native looked comfortable with the ball in his hands in limited action, hitting two field goals and getting to the free throw line on three separate occasions.

Bazley's first bucket came in transition, when the third-year man used a nice behind the back dribble move to shake Obi Toppin and get to the rim. Bazley leaped in the air, ducking between two defenders and finishing a tough contested layup for his first basket in nearly two weeks.

The 22-year-old's second score also came on a nifty move at the rim, when Bazley picked up his dribble and pump faked, causing Knicks' center Jericho Sims to leave the ground. While Sims was in the air, Bazley laid the ball in and drew a foul, giving himself a chance at a three-point play. 

Bazley's biggest impact, however, came on defense. During his first 10 minutes back on the court, Bazley recorded three blocks, the most impressive coming when the Princeton High School product denied a Toppin tomahawk dunk attempt. 

With Oklahoma City's lack of size, Bazley's ability to compete in the paint will be a deciding factor in many contests. 

While he didn't steal the show in OKC's 10-point loss to the Knicks, Bazley had a solid performance and was a bright spot in the losing effort. With fellow post player Aleksej Pokusevski nursing a bad ankle, it is crucial that Bazley is able to fill the gaps left behind by the 20-year-old Serbian. 

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