The Thunder's Depth Proves too Much for Magic
When Sam Presti was turning over the Thunder Roster this Summer, there is no way he could have known just how much depth he had acquired. He may have had hope that his bench that ranked 27th in the NBA would better, but even one of the smartest general manager's in the association could not have predicted the leaps his second unit would make in a matter of months.
The Thunder bench now ranks 10th in the NBA and Wednesday vs. Orlando with Steven Adams, Terrance Ferguson, and Abdel Nader out, reserves Mike Muscala, Nerlens Noel, and Dennis Schroder played critical roles in Oklahoma City's 120-114 win.
If we're honest, calling Schroder and Noel reserves seems a little demeaning. Both have proven good enough to start if given the opportunity. Schroder leads all scorers with 31, 22 of those coming in the second half. Noel getting the start for Adams went toe to toe with the Magic's bigs of Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon scoring 14 and grabbing seven rebounds with six dunks. Muscala came off the bench to add 14 on five of six shooting.
With Ferguson and Nader unavailable, Lou Dort was back in the starting lineup Dort gave the Thunder 26 minutes tonight, sacrificing offense for guarding Evan Fournier among others. The Thunder was due a good shooting night and got it in the first half going 63.4 percent from the floor. Oklahoma City would lead by as many as 15, and even though the Magic would cut that lead to one (107-106) with 4:38 to go after a Gordon three, Schroder would play the role of closer with a 20 foot pull up jumper making it a two-possession game with 32.9 left.
Wednesday didn't belong all to the bench Shai Gigeous-Alexander scored 18 points with 12 rebounds. The Thunder have won four straight on the road and improve to 26-19 overall. The Hawks are in town Friday night tipoff is at seven on Fox Sports Oklahoma.