The Oklahoma City Thunder traveled to Phoenix to finish off a back-to-back road set last night. They played the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night and lost a tightly contested battle 117-111.
The Thunder would be very short-handed against the Suns, as Mike Wilks filled in for head coach Mark Daigneault, who was in the league’s covid health and safety protocols. They were already without Tre Mann, Josh Giddey and Darius Bazley stuck in protocols themselves. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander came out for a light pre-game workout and immediately signaled “no” to the trainers and was ruled out with ankle soreness. SGA did participate in full pregame suit and help rebound for his teammates. The face of the franchise showing support for the young guys as they took on one of the best teams in the NBA is a nod to Shai’s maturation process throughout this rebuild.
Ty Jerome–included in the Chris Paul trade with Phoenix last November–got off to a hot start, helping keep OKC in the game. He had eight first quarter points and helped OKC trail by only 10 after the first quarter, a deficit which should’ve been a lot deeper. OKC shot 50% in the first quarter, but their defense really collapsed as they gave up five 3-pointers and many other easy looks.
Aaron Wiggins and Paul Watson Jr. were able to provide OKC with a scoring boost in the second quarter. Wiggins made some good plays on defense and was aggressive attacking the basket. The hope is Wiggins can become a quality defender and develop a shot, another OKC project in the Andre Roberson mold.
Oklahoma City cut the 10 point deficit down to one at 49-48. But they did not end the half well, making multiple turnovers and falling behind at the half 60-52. Wiggins had 12 points on 6-10 shooting at the break, followed by Jerome with 10 points and Dort with nine points.
OKC lacked a lot of communication on both ends of the floor, as many of these players have had limited NBA experience and even less experience playing with each other up until this game. It was evident that there was no chemistry, so Wilks did a tremendous job in getting guys to good spots.
Wiggins continued his great play in the third quarter. He made drives, crossovers, jumpers and was scoring with ease. Most importantly, he played great defense rotating between CP3 and Devin Booker. It’s amazing that Wiggins fell to the 55th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. In a small sample size, he is showing that he can be a big part for the future for the Thunder. His size and fluidity makes him a great wing on both ends of the floor.
But the fourth quarter would sputter out of control for OKC. Phoenix quickly took a 14 point lead and just cruised to an easy victory. They moved to 27-7 on the year, matching the Golden State Warriors for the best record in basketball.
Oklahoma City was led by Ty Jerome with 24 points and Aaron Wiggins with 22 points. OKC now heads back home for a New Years Eve matchup with the New York Knicks and, possibly, some reinforcements coming back to help the offense.
My big takeaway
Everything is gonna be okay. Has anyone made an Aaron Wiggins fan account yet?