Led by a collection of second unit players, the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied from a 24-point deficit to lead the good guys to a 102-97 victory Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Three-Point Shooting Differential
The major stat of the game for both teams was three-point shooting. For the season, both the Thunder and the 76ers were in the middle of the NBA in terms of three-point percentage, but they could not have been more different today.
After starting off the game 3-of-4 (75.0%) from deep, the Thunder could not hit one to save their lives as they missed 19 straight, but they finally managed to knock a few down to eventually finish 11-for-38 (28.9%).
Meanwhile, the 76ers were flaming hot as they knocked down 10-of-23 (43.5%) in the first half before finishing 15-of-42 (35.7%).
The Thunder’s defense has done a great job all season long at defending the perimeter, but sometimes, it doesn’t matter how good your defense is. Despite Philadelphia’s hot hand, the second unit really stepped it up late in the game to contest every shot and keep the 76ers from finishing as strongly as they started.
Dre Steals the Show
The biggest storyline of the Thunder’s first scrimmage was the return of Andre Roberson. After missing 909 days due to a torn patellar tendon in his left knee, Roberson entered the scrimmage in the second half against the Boston Celtics on Friday, and he looked solid. He continued his return today as his contributions keyed OKC to a crazy comeback.
With 3:31 left in the third quarter, the Thunder trailed the 76ers 81-57, and a comeback did not appear to be in the cards.
Enter Andre Roberson.
Checking in after a Philadelphia turnover, Roberson’s presence seemed to fuel Oklahoma City’s defense, which in turn, allowed the Thunder offense to kick it into high gear. The Thunder made use of the remaining 3 minutes in the third period to go on a 13-0 run, cutting the deficit to just 11 headed into the fourth.
OKC continued the comeback, and with just 50 seconds to go down by 2 points, Devon Hall found Andre Roberson in the corner for a 3 to put the Thunder up 98-97.
The 76ers missed a layup attempt, and after the Thunder corralled the rebound, Hall once again penetrated the paint to kick it out to Roberson, this time on the wing, where Dre hit another three, putting OKC up by 4 points with 12 seconds to go.
SGA is Ready to Take Over
Perhaps the brightest spot of the game for the Thunder was watching Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s continued development on full display. In just his second year in the NBA, SGA has continued to improve, and there is little doubt that he is a star in the making.
There were multiple times today where Gilgeous-Alexander made a decision to be aggressive and attack the basket, and it paid off.
Late in the first quarter, Nerlens Noel blocked a shot, which SGA recovered and immediately broke out in transition for a layup.
Towards the end of his minutes in the game midway through the third quarter, Shai attacked the rim and was able to finish with contact.
While he’s not exactly the biggest or strongest guard on the floor at any given moment, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has other abilities that he uses to his advantage. He is long, shifty, and extremely crafty with the basketball, and as his confidence continues to build, it is becoming more and more apparent that he can take over a game at any time.
Notes and Highlights
- Andre Roberson had a team-high +29 +/- in just 15 minutes of play.
- The Thunder outscored the 76ers 44-34 in the paint.
- The Thunder struggled at the free throw line, shooting 21-32 (65.6%).
- Chris Paul struggled with taking care of the ball. He turned it over a team-high 5 times.
- Nerlens Noel made his first appearance after missing the first scrimmage on Friday. He tallied 4 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 blocks.
- Kevin Hervey was the only Thunder player to not see the court.
- Steven Adams had another solid game: 11 points on 5-of-8 (62.5%) from the floor, 9 rebounds, and a beautiful assist.
One More Scrimmage
The Thunder has one more scrimmage before the 8-game restart begins. OKC will take on the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday at 5 PM, and that game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Oklahoma as well as on the radio at 98.1 FM WWLS the Sports Animal.