The kids were given a chance to shine in the final preseason game for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Playing for the second time in two nights, this time in Tulsa, both the Thunder and the Denver Nuggets sat plenty of key contributors and Denver won the bench battle 113-107 after overtime from the BOK Center.
"I thought we got good shots tonight," Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said after the game. "For the most part I thought we ran our offense really sharp with a lot of pace. The ball really moved.
"A lot of stuff was encouraging on the offensive end of the floor."
Electing to sit Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, Darius Bazley and Derrick Favors, the Thunder turned to the leadership of No. 6-overall pick Josh Giddey in the preseason finale.
Pulling the strings for OKC, Giddey finished with 13 points on 6-of-13 shooting, also adding eight assists and nine rebounds.
Alongside Giddey, former first round pick Aleksej Pokusevski dazzled in what was his best game of the preseason slate by far.
Knocking down 3-of-5 attempts from beyond the arc, the second-year Serbian finished with a team-high 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting, adding three assists and eight rebounds.
"I'm happy for him because we're challenging him," Daigneault said of Pokusevski's performance. "We're expecting him to make a step in a lot of areas, as we do all of our players. And he's still a really really young player, but he got a lot of experience so we're holding him to a pretty high standard.
"I thought to tonight he got rewarded for how he played. He played the right way."
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The Thunder offense really picked up in the third quarter, as OKC outscored Denver 33-21 out of the halftime break.
Giddey especially turned on his offensive production in the second half. After finishing the first half just 1-of-4 from the floor with only three points, the Australian began to attack the basket in the second half. His dynamic playmaking on the ball opened up the offense for the rest of the Thunder as the offense flowed for the duration of the contest.
The preseason finale was the first time Giddey, as well as the other Thunder rookies, had participated in a back-to-back in his professional career, an important lesson for the rookie in how to prepare his body for the regular season NBA grind.
"I thought we competed," Daigneault said. "I was watching us in the fourth quarter, how hard we were playing, the effort we were giving, and I thought that was there tonight for sure."
Center Mike Muscala and guard Ty Jerome also had nice nights in Tulsa for the Thunder.
Muscala tallied 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, pulling down four rebounds, dishing out one assist and swiping a steal.
Jerome ended the night as Oklahoma City’s second-leading scorer with 16 points as the former Virginia sharpshooter also contributed five assists, two rebounds and a steal.
Oklahoma City finished 1-3 over the course of their preseason action, with their lone victory coming over the Nuggets on Wednesday’s contest in Oklahoma City.
The Thunder will now set their sights on their regular season opener on Oct. 20, where they will hit the road to face the Utah Jazz. Tip-off between the division rivals is scheduled for 8 p.m.
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