Another chapter was added to Luguentz Dort’s career on Tuesday night.
When the going got tough, head coach Mark Daigneault found himself gravitating towards getting Dort the ball.
“It was just amazing,” Daigneault said after the win. “When we really needed one, I’m starting to like drift towards like ‘how do we get this guy the ball? How do we get this guy involved?"
We might as well entitle this chapter “Go-to Lu.”
It wasn’t his best shooting night, just 5-for-14 from the floor, but Dort led the Thunder with 24 points. On a poor night efficiency wise, Dort got to the charity stripe early and often, hitting 11 of his 13 free throws.
The performance was eerily similar to a player he shared the court with, green-clad shooting guard Marcus Smart, who shot 4-for-17 from the field and finished 5-for-6 at the line with 14 points.
“I got a lot of respect for him,” Dort said of Smart following the game. “Growing up I kind’ve watched him a little bit.”
“A lot of guys used to compare me to him, you know, when I was in high school. So I watched a lot of film on him, just to find ways to make it in this league. You know, I got a lot of respect for him and I like the way he plays.”
Mark Daigneault sees some of the comparison.
“Role wise, for sure.” Daigneault said. “You’ve got a guy that’s a really physical defender and can guard a lot of different people — offensively, they can be a secondary playmaker with the ball. I think Lu is very different from him in terms of the actual skills and style of play, but I think the role, for sure is something that Lu can fill.”
Dort’s growth as a shot creator has been tremendous in the last stretch of games. He’s put up totals of 42, 26, 29 and 24, but he’s its not enough sample to label him a star or second in command quite yet.
“It’s amazing to look back on where he started at the beginning of the year,” Daigneault finished. “That he’s at that point where you can do that against a good team on the road and he can deliver.”