Bazley Shines as Thunder Rout Wizards
Darius Bazley took his opportunity to shine on Sunday, scoring a career-high 23 points as the Thunder routed the Wizards 121-103. For the second straight game, Bazley was forced into playing the five as Steven Adams, and Nerlnes Noel were late scratches.
Against more physical teams, the 6-8 rookie may have struggled, but not against the Wizards. Bazley was free to move without the ball on offense, stretching the floor and setting himself up to have a 5/8 day from beyond the arc.
While Bazley has the athletic ability to play multiple positions, he's a "natural" four. Bazley says he doesn't have a preference as to where Billy Donovan puts him on the floor, but there are some advantages to him playing center.
"A plus that does come out of me playing the five is that a lot of five men are a lot bigger than me and often times slower."..."So I have a bit of an advantage on the offensive side."
Bazley and the rest of the Thunder were helped by Mike Muscala, who started for the injured Adams. Muscala was red hot from three early on, and his teammates fed off his success.
Donovan says, "Mike got us off to a great start he knocked down those first two threes gave us a quick early lead."..."I think he and Chris [Paul] work very well in pick and roll together."
Donovan also says the Thunder we able to play to both Muscala and Bazley's strengths. "For what those guys need to do in the game, I thought they played really well and gave us a different dimension from the parameter."
After struggling to find his stroke for the last two games, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander broke out of the doldrums. Gilgeous-Alexander went 6/12 from the field, scoring 18 points.
More on Bazley
At 20 years and 58 days, Bazley became the youngest reserve in Thunder history to score 20 plus points.
Thunder/Suns Monday at 1:30 Monday on Fox Sports Oklahoma and 97.1 The Sports Animal.
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With more than 20 years of experience hosting local and national radio shows, Erik Gee is a fixture of Oklahoma sports media. He has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for the past six seasons. He is also the co-host of the Pat Jones show on 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.