Despite trailing by double digits early, the Oklahoma City Thunder roared back to lose a close one 100-95 on the road to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.
The first half was a tale of two quarters as the Thunder’s offense couldn’t buy a bucket, and after the first period, OKC trailed Utah 23-10.
The second quarter was a different story, however, as the Thunder came out hot from beyond the perimeter. OKC knocked down 6-for-12 from three and rallied back to take a 4-point lead at one point before entering halftime down 49-46.
The third quarter belonged to the Thunder as well as they continued to play solid defense while getting plenty of open looks on offense. Danilo Gallinari hit a shot at the buzzer to to make it 74-68 headed into the fourth.
OKC extended the lead to 8 to start the final frame, their largest lead of the night, but Donovan Mitchell’s heroics brought the Jazz back to put the game away late.
This Team Is Fun
Coming into the game, expectations were universally low concerning the outlook for the Thunder’s season, but this game was nothing short of exciting. Utah was nearly a double-digit favorite at tip-off, but OKC was right in the thick of it for most of the game.
While there were plenty of opening night issues, the Thunder played a well-rounded game, and there is plenty to build on moving forward. As long as OKC continues to develop chemistry and work hard to stay in games late, they’re going to be just fine in what many consider to be a rebuilding year.
Don’t Sweat the Issues
Despite keeping it close, the Thunder had plenty of problems tonight.
OKC managed to knock down 10-of-27 (37.0%) from three, but they shot just 32-for-83 (38.6%) overall from the field and 21-of-31 (67.7%) from the free throw line.
Steven Adams scored a measly 3 points on 1-for-8 from the floor and 1-for-6 from the free throw line. Terrance Ferguson did not have a single field goal attempt, and he scored just two points on 2-for-2 from the free throw line.
It’s never a good thing when two of your starters combine for just 5 points, but it allowed other guys to step up and pick up some of the slack. Shooting problems aside, the Thunder worked together to make tonight’s matchup a close game, and they proved that they can compete with one of the league’s best teams.
Thunder Player of the Game
In his Thunder debut, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander put up a career-high 26 points knocking down 10-of-23 (43.5%) from the field, including 3-of-7 (42.9%) from 3. He struggled from the free throw line, making just 3-of-6 (50.0%), and he tallied only 2 rebounds and 1 assist, but he only turned the ball over once. Shai was my preseason pick to lead the Thunder in scoring this season, and he’s already off to a great start.
The Thunder plays its home opener on Friday when they host the Washington Wizards. The Wizards are without John Wall, who likely won’t play again until February after rupturing his right Achilles tendon last season, but they still have Bradley Beal, who is coming off his second consecutive selection as an NBA All-Star.
Tip-off is set for 7 PM, and the game will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
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