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Without SGA, Oklahoma City's Youthful Core Willed the Thunder to Victory

There were plenty of bright stars against the Spurs Wednesday night.

After digging a big hole early, the Thunder’s defense buckled up down the stretch and allowed Oklahoma City to complete the comeback, knocking off the Spurs 119-111 at the Paycom Center.

OKC allowed an alarming 77 points in the first half, but completely flipped the script coming out of the break. In the last two quarters, the Thunder gave up just 34 points and the halftime adjustments were evident. Oklahoma City’s interior defense was much tighter over the course of the final two quarters, and the youthful Thunder ran in transition.

This was a big win for the Thunder without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who missed Wednesday’s game with a hip injury. Oklahoma City has a long road stretch coming up with some very difficult opponents on the horizon, so snatching a come-from-behind-win against a conference foe was great momentum to take on the road.

Here’s who led the Thunder to victory against the Spurs:

Jalen Williams

Oklahoma City’s lottery pick netted the biggest performance of his young career on Wednesday. Williams finished the game with 27 points on an ultra-efficient 11-of-15 from the floor and 2-of-3 from 3-point range.

The rookie received higher volume with SGA out of the lineup and took advantage of the opportunity. His potential on the offensive end is clear, and he seems to add something new to his wide skill-set every time he’s on the floor. With more minutes, he’ll only become more comfortable. He looked like Oklahoma City’s No. 1 option on offense Wednesday.

Lu Dort

Outside of an off-night against Houston, Dort has been in a groove lately. Wednesday was one of his best games of the season.

The guard contributed 23 points and four assists, shouldering a good portion of the load with his backcourt mate out. Even though Dort is known for his defense, he’s been in double-figures often lately. He seems to finally be in rhythm from 3-point range, where he drilled 3-of-7 Wednesday night.

Tre Mann

Mann was finally able to have an efficient night on the floor. Part of that could be attributed to a lack of consistent minutes, but Mann has had a few chances this season and failed to capitalize. Wednesday, he helped the Thunder claw back.

On the game, he added 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting in 26 minutes of court time. Mann is shooting just 38.9% on the season, so Wednesday was definitely a step in the right direction.

Josh Giddey

Even though it was an off-night shooting for Oklahoma City’s point guard, he was still a big part in the Thunder’s win. Giddey recorded a massive double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds, while adding five assists and no turnovers.

With Gilgeous-Alexander out, Giddey was able to find the hot hand and help orchestrate the offense. He finished the night a plus-six when on the court. 7-of-18 isn’t going to cut it offensively, but the good outweighed the bad against San Antonio.

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