The Oklahoma City Thunder picked up right where they left off last night as they hosted the undefeated Orlando Magic in the second game of a back-to-back Tuesday night. Despite playing within single digits for pretty much the entire game, OKC dropped to 1-2 as they were unable to hold on as Orlando grabbed a 118-107 win to move to 4-0.
The Keys Belong to Shai
If there was any doubt before, there should be absolute zero now: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the new face of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
SGA played well in the first two games of the season, and tonight was no different. Despite another loss, he was incredibly efficient as he led the Thunder with 23 points on 8-of-10 (80.0%) from the floor, including 3-of-3 (100.0%) from downtown, all while grabbing 7 rebounds and dishing out 7 assists.
Maybe the only downside to Shai’s play tonight was his low volume shooting. I would have been happier with another 5 shots or so, especially considering 3 of his teammates put up at least 2 more than he did, but at the same time, you can’t fault the guy for looking to get his teammates involved. Needless to say, it’s going to be a fun season watching SGA continue to grow.
Isaiah Roby’s Stock is Mooning
With Al Horford sitting out of tonight’s matchup with the Magic due to rest, Isaiah Roby earned his first career start. Coming into the game, he had played a grand total of 12 minutes over the span of 3 games, and they were all blowouts.
Tonight went a bit differently, however.
From the opening tip-off, which he won, Roby was ready to go. After pouring in 9 points in a spectacular first quarter, Roby stayed active until the final buzzer, and if anything, he proved that whenever his name is called, he’s going to be ready.
Racking up 28 minutes on the court, Roby tallied 19 points, which was second-most on the team, while shooting an efficient 9-of-12 (75.0%) from the floor, which included a ridiculous highlight of breaking Nikola Vucevic’s ankles on his way to the rim.
On top of his 19 points, Roby pulled down 7 rebounds and blocked 2 shots. Overall, it was a pretty solid performance from the young man, but I’m not quite sure what this means for his playing time moving forward.
WANTED: Interior Help
For the second consecutive game, the Thunder struggled mightily at protecting the paint. Last night, OKC gave up 50 points to the Utah Jazz in the paint, and tonight was even worse as Orland racked up 72 points down low.
The absence of Steven Adams is being felt mightily, and while the Thunder has gone more the route of small ball than playing with a traditional big man, they’re going to have to make some adjustments moving forward.
Oklahoma City’s defense is the key to their success, whether it be in any given moment in a game or over the long run of the future of the organization, and even though this is the era of the 3-point shot, the Thunder has to be able to stop teams from getting easy buckets down low.
Thunder Unsung Hero of the Game
Tonight’s unsung hero could go to a number of different guys, especially considering how well the ball was shared, but one player who rarely gets credit for the good things that he does is Hamidou Diallo. Hami made some of his typical mistakes tonight, but he finished with 13 points on 6-of-9 (66.7%) shoooting, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block.
While Diallo isn’t the most efficient basketball player, he always brings energy off the bench, and that’s enough to get me excited to watch him play. His value for this team continues to rise, and he is absolutely a key piece to the Thunder’s development this season.