Returning to Oklahoma City, the Thunder kicked off a four-game home stand against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday evening.
Riding high off their win in Boston, OKC was no match for superstar Zion Williamson, who torched the Thunder for 27 points on 12-of-24 shooting, powering New Orleans to the 109-95 victory.
Still playing without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a majority of the Thunder roster was present for the game, really only missing Tony Bradley from the OKC regulars who have logged most of the minutes since the trade deadline.
Though the result didn’t go Oklahoma City’s way, they were able to turn around their trend of poor third quarters, outscoring the Pelicans by six points in the third frame on Thursday night.
Here are three takeaways from the loss:
Thunder fans get their first look at Gabriel Deck
After a delay in getting into the country and a seven-day quarantine, new Argentinian signing Gabriel Deck finally made his debut in OKC.
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The 6-foot-6 forward logged 15 minutes in his debut, shooting 1-of-5 from the field and 0-of-3 from deep. He also added a pair of rebounds and assists, including a sweet behind the back feed to Isaiah Roby in the second quarter.
As he gets his fitness back under him down the home stretch, it will be interesting to see how Deck fits into OKC’s future plans.
Turnovers continue to be a problem
Despite surviving 27 turnovers against the Celtics, the Thunder were unable to overcome their 22 giveaways against New Orleans.
Head coach Mark Daigneault praised his team’s continued aggression after the Celtics loss, but the aggression has come with a major uptick of turnovers by the young Thunder core.
Darius Bazley continues to be a serial offender, turning the ball over five times, closely followed by Theo Maledon who coughed up the basketball four times.
For a team who often shoots at a worse clip than their opponents, they cannot afford to continue handing opponents extra possessions moving forward.
Dort heats up late to continue his scoring run
Entering the fourth quarter with just two points, Luguentz Dort finished the night with 17, continuing his seven-game streak scoring 15 or more points.
The second year guard out of Arizona State especially heated up from deep, finishing shooting 4-of-8 from 3-point land as he continues his lights out month of April from beyond the arc.
Though he wasn’t able to keep the Thunder in the game in the first three quarters with his shooting, it’s a good sign that he was able to shake off a slow start and finish strong as he continues to play a larger role in the OKC offense.
Oklahoma City’s next outing will be Saturday evening when they take the court to host the Indiana Pacers. Tip-off from the Chesapeake Energy Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m.