The Thunder concluded preseason play with an exciting 119-115 overtime victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. The victory brings OKC’s preseason record to 3-1, as Milwaukee drops to 2-1 before they wrap up their preseason on Friday night vs Minnesota.
Paul George led the way for OKC with 26 points (8/13 FG, 3/5 3P, 7/8 FT) 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, and a steal — all of which were recorded in the first half. With Milwaukee’s starters getting the night off, the Bucks were able to hang around and send the game into overtime with a game-tying three-pointer from Tim Frazier in the final seconds. OKC held on for the victory thanks to Deonte Burton’s overtime heroics — he scored 11 points in the extra period to provide the separation needed to secure the win.
OKC begins the regular season with a nationally-televised debut against the world champion Golden State Warriors in Oracle Arena next Tuesday night on TNT. That game will tip-off at 9:30 PM CST.
38.7%: OKC struggled offensively as they shot 38.7 percent from the field
+9: OKC won the rebounding battle 57-48
+12: OKC secured 19 offensive rebounds compared to Milwaukee’s 7
36.1%: The OKC shooters were fairly accurate tonight, as OKC shot 36.1 percent from three-point range
68.6%: The charity stripe wasn’t necessarily free for OKC tonight, as the Thunder shot 68.6 percent from the line.
+8: OKC edged out Milwaukee with 14 steals compared to their 6.
+7: OKC recorded 12 blocks compared to Milwaukee’s 5.
George: 26 pts (8/13 FG, 3/5 3P, 7/8 FT), 4 rebs, 1 ast, 1 blk, 1 stl, 18 mins
Adams: 5 pts (2/4 FG, 1/2 FT), 5 rebs, 1 ast, 3 blk, 1 stl, 16 mins
Schroder: 8 pts (2/10 FG, 1/2 3P, 3/4 FT), 1 ast, 3 rebs, 2 TOs, 16 mins
Patterson: 2 pts (1/9 FG, 0/5 3P), 3 rebs, 1 ast, 1 stl, 22 mins
Diallo: 19 pts (8/16 FG, 3/5 3P) 5 rebs, 4 ast, 1 blk, 1 stl, 40 mins
Grant: 9 pts (4/10 FG, 1/2 3P, 0/2 FT), 5 rebs, 3 blk, 20 mins
Noel: 7 pts (2/6 FG, 3/4 FT), 14 rebs, 2 ast, 2 blk, 3 stl, 33 mins
Felton: 4 pts (2/9 FG, 0/2 3P), 4 ast, 2 rebs, 3 TOs, 18 mins
TLC: 10 pts (4/10 FG, 1/5 3P, 1/2 FT), 2 ast, 5 rebs, 2 stls, 18 mins
Burton: 16 pts (6/11 FG, 3/4 3P, 1/2 FT), 4 rebs, 1 blk, 3 stl
Paul George full highlights: 26 pts, 4 reb
Hamidou Diallo highlights: 19 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast
Deonte Burton highlights: 16 pts, 4 reb, 3 stl, 11 pts in OT
Billy D’s Musical Chairs: Thunder head coach Billy Donovan was forced to tinker with his starting lineup again on Tuesday night, as interim starting shooting guard Terrance Ferguson suffered a concussion in Sunday afternoon’s preseason bout with Atlanta. Donovan rolled out Dennis Schroder, rookie Hamidou Diallo, Paul George, Patrick Patterson, and Steven Adams for OKC’s preseason finale.
DNP’s – Rest: Former Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer decided to rest a majority of his starters in his second-to-last preseason contest as he gears up for his first season with the Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, and Brook Lopez all had the night off. Malcolm Brogdon, Donte DiVincenzo, Tony Snell, Christian Wood, and Tyler Zeller received the starting nod tonight. Ersan Ilyasova (hamstring), Thon Maker (knee), DJ Wilson (hamstring), and Trevon Duval (eye) remained out.
PG En Fuego: Paul George came out on fire to start the game, scoring 19 of OKC’s 27 first quarter points. He took advantage of mismatches whenever Tyler Zeller switched onto him, while also utilizing his mid-range game. George closed out the first half with 26 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist. He responsibly sat out the second half, along with Dennis Schroder and Steven Adams.
In Hamidou Time: Hamidou Diallo-Mania reached new heights tonight in OKC. Diallo’s jumper was falling to the tune of 19 points (8/16 FG, 3/5 3P), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal. Billy Donovan has no choice but to give the rookie out of Kentucky a spot in his regular season rotation, right? Ferguson has already been mentioned as the early season starter, but if Diallo can keep up his confident play he could be looking at some serious run until Andre Roberson returns from his patella injury.
Pump the brakes, Schroder: There’s no way to sugar coat it — Dennis Schroder struggled tonight on both ends of the floor. Malcolm Brogdon was taking him to the paint early and often in the first half, as Brogdon accounted for 12 points (5/11 FG, 2/5 3P), 7 assists and 3 rebounds in the first two quarters. Schroder didn’t fare much better on the offensive end, as his mid-range jumper continues to be of concern. Schroder finished the first half with 8 points (2/10 FG, 1/2 3P, 3/4 FT), 1 assist, and 3 rebounds. This continues to be a work in progress.
Resolution at PF?: Patrick Patterson appears to be on track to start the season as OKC’s starting power forward despite his struggles from the floor on Tuesday. He struggles to impact the game when his shot isn’t falling, as he went 1/9 from the field and 0/5 from three point range. Jerami Grant, however, was his usual Energizer Bunny self, playing with tempo and making plays on both ends of the floor. Grant had 3 blocks tonight. One particular third quarter possession was impressive as it started with a Grant block on Shabazz Muhammad and concluded with a made Grant three-pointer. Similar to last season, I would expect Grant to play a pivotal role for OKC down the stretch of games, especially when Patterson’s shot isn’t falling.
The Need For Speed: Sam Presti quietly improved the overall athleticism of the Thunder with a handful of moves this summer. The speed and length of OKC’s newcomers were on full display in the third quarter, as TLC, Nerlens Noel, and Diallo all received major minutes while George, Schroder, and Adams were given the second half off. Noel’s constant energy on the glass and in the defensive interior is such a welcomed addition to this Thunder team, who struggled mightily when Steven Adams was on the bench last season.
Final Thoughts: OKC appeared to have dodged a bullet today, as Dennis Schroder took a big hit to the back of the head to close out the first half. (He was reportedly held out of the second half for precautionary reasons.) George looked every bit the part of the All-NBA player that he is, putting to rest some quiet concern over his preseason inefficiency. The real question going forward will be Russell Westbrook’s availability coming back from knee surgery, as OKC goes into Oracle Arena a week from tonight.