After storming back from a big deficit to tie the game in the fourth quarter, OKC lets the Wiz go on a 14-0 run. Bummer for all the fans in attendance, but again, the Thunder played fun, competitive basketball and were in it all game. And stay in the mix for a top draft pick, if you’re into that kind of thing. The common takeaway from the Jazz game and this Wizards game is the most important one of all for the Thunder: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander looks like a potential star. Second most important? The opening night crowd reactions:
- The Thunder intro hype video and player introductions by local rap artist (and my longtime buddy) Jabee were a big hit. Very nice touch announcing the bench players as well.
- Darius Bazley is just a likable guy. His infectious charm won the audience over in his pre-game season welcome with an opening “hey hey hey” and a big closing “Thunder UP!”.
- Scott Brooks got a very loud OKC ovation, as is custom. Billy Donovan got mostly silence mixed with some mild-mannered boos. Oklahomans are too nice and loyal to fully commit to jeering their own.
- Steven Adams, not surprisingly, got the biggest ovation from the Thunder crowd. Dare I say, Russ sized. And the word is already out on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, judging by crowd reaction.
So the crowd ovation scorecard officially goes:
- 1. Adams 2a. Paul 2b. SGA 4. Scott Brooks 5. Terrance Ferguson 6. Danilo Gallinari 7-17. OKC bench + G League players 18. Rumble 19. Crowd members playing The Oklahoman Headline Hustle game 20. Billy Donovan
- This team will be competitive every night when CP3, Shai, Adams and Gallo are on the court. When the reserves come in, well, instead of calling them the bench mob, maybe we call them the tank squad?
- In the first quarter, the starters built a three point lead over the Wizards. In just a few minutes, the bench lost the lead and were down four at the end of period.
- Love at first sight is a real thing. I witnessed it tonight between the OKC home crowd and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
- Shai is the heir apparent for the Thunder, and his game couldn’t be any different from the man from whom he took the torch. While Westbrook is all fury, speed and brute strength, SGA is patience, grace and a soft touch.
- The Thunder bench did more traveling tonight than the Griswolds did in the entire National Lampoon series.
- Chris Paul was great against the Jazz. He was bad tonight. Can’t really draw any conclusions from either game other than I think 34 year old superstars will have good nights and bad nights.
- Steven Adams was bad against the Jazz. He was bad again tonight. It made sense against Rudy Gobert. I don’t get it against Thomas Bryant. I still believe in Adams, though. He didn’t just forget how to play basketball because Russ moved into a different area code.