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This was my favorite Thunder game of the year.
The back to back Bulls and Grizzlies 24+ point comebacks were far more exciting.
Wins over the Warriors and Blazers were far more cathartic.
Upsets against the 76ers and Jazz were far more impressive.
One possession losses to the Bucks, Lakers and Clippers were far more eye opening.
But this Suns beat down featured the thing I am more invested in than anything else this season: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander showcasing his superstar potential.
SGA scored a career high 32 points, and he honestly made it look easy. Name a shot and Shai made one of that variety. Three pointers, midrange jumpers, floaters, driving layups at the rim, eurosteps and scoop shots. Left handed scoop shots, to be precise. Oh man, that was a beauty. Just a second, I’m gonna go watch that highlight clip again real quick.
Okay, I’m back.
Shai shot 13-18 from the field, including 2-2 from behind the 3 point line. The best thing is that he just took what the Suns’ “defense” gave him. He never forced anything, he didn’t look anyone off, he wasn’t trying to hunt for his own buckets to hit the 30 mark for the first time. SGA just made the right play each time, whether it be a shot or a pass.
Yeah, Dennis Schroder continued his impressive tear and scored 24 and Danilo Gallinari chipped in his obligatory 22 points on great efficiency. Chris Paul had a nice game with 15 points and 7 assists and Steven Adams had a near double double with 10 and 9. But on this night, all those respected vets took a backseat to the future Thunder star attraction.
Tonight was the Shai Show, and I’d like to see this pilot episode extended for a full season.
- It’s official. The Thunder are at .500 for the first time this season at 14-14. The playoffs are starting to look less like a “wouldn’t that be neat?” thought and more like a realistic outcome.
- The Thunder won a game in which they never got down by double digits!
- Darius Bazley put a dazzling exclamation point on the Thunder’s fourth straight home win with a drive to the lane in the final moments that ended in a spin around two Suns defenders and an off balance, falling away dunk.
- Abdel Nader was stripped from behind on a drive to the rim. Serious question: why do NBA players not yell “WOLF!” to their teammates? It’s incredibly effective as a warning signal in pick up ball.
- A basketball coming out of nowhere to hit both referees in the head after they called a bad tech on Steven Adams was hilariously satisfying. On a night that Shai scored 32, it was his best shot of the night.
- I want to say this without throwing shade at any past Thunder players or teams, but it’s not really possible: I’m so impressed at this current team’s shot selection and the way they value possessions.
- The number of Nerlens Noel alley oops has gone up dramatically over the past couple weeks. Is Loud City the new Lob City?
- Up next: Paul George makes his first return to Oklahoma City when his LA Clippers come to town on Sunday. Will he be showered in cheers or boos? I expect half and half. If I was allowed to cheer or boo from the media box, I’d do a cheerboo.
- If the Thunder can somehow pull off a win over the Clippers to get over .500 and a winning record for the first time this season, how much sweeter would it be for SGA, CP3 and Gallo to do it against their former team? And for Thunder fans for it to come against Regular Season P?
- The debut episode of the Daily Thunder Podcast is now available on iTunes and everywhere you listen to your favorite pods! All the fun features of Mr. Presti’s Neighborhood, but it’s new and improved. Check it out: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/episode-1-tyler-parker/id1492195735?i=1000460358066.