Coming off of a 73-point loss at the hands of the Memphis Grizzles, Oklahoma City was back to its competitive brand of basketball. OKC snapped an eight-game losing skid, knocking off the Pistons 114-103.
In the return of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to the Thunder lineup, he had one of his best games of the season. The young star had a monster double-double, tallying 30 points and 13 assists.
The first half looked like it might be headed in the direction of another blowout defeat. The Thunder couldn’t string together any stops defensively, giving up 37 points in the first quarter.
One reason the Thunder struggled on the defensive end was because Cade Cunningham got going. The top pick ended up having one of his best games of the year by filling up the stat sheet with 28 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
The back-and-forth action didn’t really get going until the third quarter when the Thunder came alive offensively. Down 16 with just over seven minutes left in the period, the Thunder started clawing its way back into the game. Gilgeous-Alexander played an aggressive style of basketball and continued to get to the free-throw line, as the Thunder cut the Piston lead to six multiple times in the quarter.
Gilgeous-Alexander ended the night going 12-15 from the stripe.
The Thunder defense kicked it into gear defensively in the third quarter as well. Kenrich Williams was huge leading the defensive charge for OKC tonight, as he recorded four steals. Darius Bazley also had one of his better defensive games of the season, as he recorded three blocks and two steals.
The Pistons were holding onto a six point lead with just under six minutes left in the fourth quarter when Lu Dort nailed back-to-back triples. The two-way stud was huge from behind the arc tonight for OKC, where he hit five 3-pointers.
Recommended for You
After a huge transition layup by Gilgeous-Alexander to take the lead, Mike Muscala drilled potentially the shot of the game with a deep 3-pointer. That gave the Thunder a 101-97 lead with 3:09 left.
Gilgeous-Alexander simply took over in crunch time, as he scored and assisted and almost every Thunder basket. Once he got going, the Thunder never looked back. This was by far his best passing game of the season, as he finished the night with 13 assists.
Ultimately, this game came down to the fourth quarter where Oklahoma City dominated. The Thunder, led by Gilgeous-Alexander and Dort, outscored the Pistons 42-22 in the final frame.
Aside from Gilgeous-Alexander's huge night, Dort had one of his most impressive games of the season. The third-year guard added 28 points for the Thunder, while constantly guarding Cunningham and Jerami Grant.
Kenrich Williams was a spark off the bench for the Thunder, contributing 12 points, three rebounds and three assists. While Josh Giddey scored efficiently, he was careless with the ball tonight. Giddey finished with 12 points, five assists and four turnovers after missing the past two games with the flu.
Overall, this was a very encouraging performance by the Thunder. After the worst loss in NBA history, this team responded in an impressive manner.
The Thunder returns to action Wednesday night, as they take on the Raptors in Toronto