On the heels of the worst loss in franchise history, the Oklahoma City Thunder bounced back agains the Phoenix Suns.
Though they ultimately fell short, the Thunder pushed the best team in the Western Conference to the brink, as Isaiah Roby missed a 3-point attempt in the final minute of the contest to cut the Suns lead to just a point.
Even more impressive, OKC hung around with Phoenix despite an off night from Luguentz Dort, who only shot 4-of-19 from the field for 10 points, a far cry from his recent scoring stretch.
Darius Bazley led the way for the Thunder, turning around his tough shooting night on Saturday against the Pacers to lead the way for OKC. Scoring 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, the second year forward continues to be the aggressor on offense, burning the Suns for an efficient night.
Bazley’s play since returning from a fractured scapula will excite Thunder fans, but he wasn’t the only standout performer from Sunday night.
Game Ball: Theo Maledon
Rookie Theo Maledon has been put in a tough spot since the trade deadline.
As Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has missed the back part of the season, Maledon has been handed the reigns to the offense and been given every opportunity to make plays, but also to make mistakes.
Matching up with legendary point guard Chris Paul, Maledon played well, frustrating Paul multiple times with his smart drives to the basket.
Not only was he OKC’s second-leading scorer with 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting, Maledon helped space the floor by converting 3-of-6 attempts from deep, and he limited his turnovers against a smart Suns defense.
The highs and lows are the norm for any rookie, but if Maledon can continue this base level of play, he will be a nice piece off the Thunder bench for years to come.
Game Ball: Gabriel Deck
The Argentinian has steadily see more action in his three games with the Thunder, and he continues to flash great potential.
Thrown into the deep end having to check Zion Williamson in his first NBA game ever, Gabriel Deck has proven he’s more than just a scorer thus far for OKC.
Carding another all-around nice performance, Deck added 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting in his 19 minutes of action, also pulling down six rebounds and three assists.
After spending the last week stuck in quarantine, Deck hasn’t looked out of his depth in adjusting to the pace of the NBA, and it will be interesting to see what kind of piece he can be for Sam Presti and Mark Daigneault as he is afforded more and more time on the floor for the Thunder.
Thus far, Deck has shot 39 percent of his shots, though he’s yet to hit a 3-pointer in six attempts.