Despite playing with one of the cheapest salaried lineups in the entire league, the Oklahoma City Thunder managed to hold off the Houston Rockets on Sunday afternoon. The Thunder led for most of the game, but late in the fourth, the Rockets were able to take over momentarily.
OKC was hot from downtown at different points during the matchup, but in the end, it was a defensive stop from Luguentz Dort that saved the day as the Thunder handed the Rockets a 114-112 loss, Houston’s 20th in a row.
Dort Continues to Dominate on the Defensive End
You may be tired of hearing it by now, but I certainly am not: Luguentz Dort is an incredible defender.
Every single game he’s tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best backcourt player, and in the final seconds against Houston, Dort was guarding John Wall, one of the best driving point guards in the NBA. With just a few seconds remaining, Wall seemingly gained an advantage against Dort by beating him off the dribble, but Dort was able to chase Wall down for the block from behind, stopping a layup that would have put Houston on top.
Lu Dort has only improved as an NBA player in his short time in the league. He’s an established defender, and his offensive repertoire continues to grow, but it’s his playmaking ability that continues to make him stand out. It’s not just his ability to make big time plays, either, but his timing is impeccable.
Svi is Settling in Nicely
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk played in just his second game in a Thunder uniform on Sunday afternoon, and after an uneventful debut on Friday, he had quite the performance off the bench against the Rockets.
OKC had just 9 guys available on Sunday, and Svi was active from the minute he checked in late in the first quarter. In 21 minutes, Mykhailiuk tallied 15 points on 6-of-11 (54.5%) shooting from the floor, including 3-of-6 (50.0%) from downtown. A solid three-point shooter, he’s also capable of contributing in other ways. Svi recorded 4 rebounds and 3 assists, and his craftiness in the paint makes him a threat as a scorer, but he’s also a capable passer.
Thunder Unsung Hero of the Game
9 players saw the court for OKC on Sunday afternoon, and pretty much everybody had a solid game. Everybody scored and contributed in one area or another, but the unsung hero for the day has to be Justin Jackson.
Jackson has appeared in 29 of 42 games for the Thunder, averaging just a little over 16 minutes per game, but you can guarantee that he stays ready for whatever Coach Mark Daigneault wants out of him. He’s a consummate professional in that he performs at a high-level in one form or another, and today, he was an effective scorer whenever the Thunder needed him.
In just 13 minutes of play, Jackson scored 15 points on 5-of-6 (83.3%) shooting from the floor, knocking down 2-of-3 (66.7%) from three and 3-of-3 (100.0%) from the free throw line. He brought some necessary scoring off the bench, and he did it despite limited minutes. You can’t ask much more from a guy who doesn’t get on the court very often.
Final Leg of Road Trip
The Thunder has just one game left on the current 4-game road trip as they travel all the way to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves on Monday night. That’s a tough turnaround for OKC, having to travel across the country for the second game of a back-to-back; meanwhile, Minnesota will be playing with two days of rest. Despite sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, the Timberwolves should have a good chance at winning this one.
Tip-off for the game is set for 7 PM and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. It will also be broadcast on the radio on WWLS 98.1 FM.