Game 62 Recap: Thunder (38-24) def. Pistons (20-43) 114-107
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The Pistons used to play in The Palace, which made for easy to rhyme headlines, jokes and player-fan fight monikers.
They now play in Little Caesars Arena. A lot harder to come up with a clever rhyming play on words, but I promise that by the end of this recap, I’ll come up with one.
Meanwhile, the Thunder would never admit it, so I’ll say it for them: they anticipated a cakewalk after the back to back behemoths that OKC just faced. Playing the Pistons after doing battle with the Bucks and Clippers is like going back to level 1 and fighting Foot Soldiers after Krang and Shredder whipped you. You just wanna breeze through Bebop to get to some real competition again. But if you don’t take those henchmen seriously, sometimes you’ll lose a life.
The Thunder found themselves in a shocking shootout with the injury riddled, trade crippled Pistons. Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson are wearing different uniforms than they were a few weeks ago, and Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin and Luke Kennard are all varying degrees of banged up. Those were Detroit’s five best players to open the season. The best healthy player remaining on the roster is Christian Wood.
For the majority of the game, the Thunder looked like the superior team despite playing on the second night of a road back to back. OKC’s three headed point monster got whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. The Thunder saw a nice 69-64 halftime lead balloon to 16 points in the third quarter.
But the Detroit Foot Soldiers just wouldn’t go away. They shot an absurd 18 of 43 from 3 point range on the night, which eventually paid off in a late game comeback and lead.
If the Thunder would have lost this game, it would have been the worst loss of the season. Hands down. Yes, I realize that OKC is coming off a 47 point Buck whacking two games ago. But this Pistons team is a who’s who of “who’s that?”.
Fortunately, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander looked every bit the part of a future All Star tonight and rescued the Thunder from a three game losing streak. SGA had the best shooting night of his young career with 27 points on 12-15 shots. Add in 23 points on 7-14 from Dennis Schroder, 16 points on 7-10 from Chris Paul and one game-icing dagger 3 from Danilo Gallinari, and you have yourself yet another nominee for the Most Exciting Thunder Win Over A Bad Opponent award.
While it wasn’t exactly the filet mignon of victories, for Thunder fans with stomachs Rumble-ing with hunger pangs for a win, tonight was a satisfying stuffed crust Crowd Pleaser at Little Caesars.
- The Thunder have to go 12-8 the rest of the season to reach the 50 win benchmark. It’s the most fascinating rest of season storyline for this team.
- On paper, OKC had the 5 or 6 best players tonight. If this game was pick up or a draft between LeBron and Giannis, then CP3, Gallo, Shai, Adams & Schroder are all picked before Christian Wood. Maybe Noel. It’s a testament to how well the Pistons played that this game was a toss up in the final moments.
- With 29 points and 9 rebounds, Wood carried the Pistons on his back so hard that he’s going to wake up stiff in the morning.
- 10 minutes of hearing “Little Caesars Arena” and I was thinking of going to get a $5 Hot N Ready at halftime. 8 years of going to games at Chesapeake Energy Arena and I’ve never once had a craving to change the oil in my car.
- There was a travel called on Shai that if truly valid, then Giannis, LeBron and Harden haven’t scored a single legal point this season.
- The official OKC Thunder Twitter account posted the 69-64 halftime score with a caption that referenced the Thunder’s 69% shooting. The comments section was nice as expected.
- I’m a big fan of this Thunder squad’s ball sharing and team play. But Shai scoring 25 points through three quarters was a good reminder of how fun a star taking over a game can be. And an even better reminder of how bright the future is for SGA.
- Poor Terrance Ferguson finally hit a 3 pointer for only the second time in his last 11 attempts. And it was waved off because he got it off a millisecond after the buzzer.
- Danilo Gallinari since appearing on the Daily Thunder Podcast: 24 points in win vs Bulls 24 points in win vs Kings Let’s skip this one vs Clippers Dagger game winner vs Pistons
- Can’t ever take a road win on a back to back for granted, even against the Pistons. The Thunder persevered behind great games from Shai, CP3, Schroder and Gallo. No matter the opponent, this OKC team makes every game entertaining. Thunder fans getting their money’s worth all season.
- Up next: at the Knicks on Friday night. After a two game losing streak, it’s nice to bounce back with a two game winning streak.