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The most important player of the Thunder’s rebuild and next decade of OKC basketball had himself quite a game on Friday night.
Serge Ibaka double doubled with 17 points and 11 rebounds on 7-8 shooting.
The other most important player of the Thunder’s rebuild was pretty good too.
Paul George had 29 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists on 10-19 shooting.
The okay but seriously most important player of the Thunder’s rebuild was better than both of them.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 30 points on 11-20 shooting and dished out 8 assists.
Seeing Serge, PG13 and Shai share a floor felt like a full circle moment for the OKC. Serge was an essential and beloved member of the first era of Thunder basketball. George was the disappointing hope of another gasp of contention who ultimately became the bridge between two eras. Shai is the face of the present rebuild and, fingers crossed, co-face of future contention.
And the three players are not only chronologically connected in Thunder lore, but they are linked by way of the Dwight Schrute’s Art of the Swap.
Sam Presti traded future world champion but past-his-prime-so-we-were-told Serge Ibaka for future All-Star Victor Oladipo and future All-Star Domantas Sabonis, who were both traded for multiple All-Star and future OKC MVP candidate Paul George, who was traded for future Daily Thunder Podcast guest Danilo Gallinari, future high schoolers (five 1st round picks and two pick swaps), and I’m-speaking-it-into-existence future multiple All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Dwight started with a thumbtack and ended up with Jim’s magical beans. Presti started with a 42-year-old Ibaka and a mountain of tax payments big enough to make Wesley Snipes blush. He ended up with a 22-year-old rising star and a mountain of picks big enough to make Brett Favre blush.
And make no mistake, SGA is indeed on the cusp of stardom.
Sharing the LA stage with Kawhi Leonard, a consensus top-5 player of the past decade, and Paul George, a consensus top-5 current MVP candidate, Shai looked every bit as good as both superstars. The Clippers threw all of their elite defenders at him, including Kawhi, PG13 and He Who Must Not Be Named (rhymes with Hat Trick Celery), and none of them could slow Shai down.
The Clippers couldn’t hold their big lead with their Big Two since Shai and his big buddy Lu looked like a Big Two, too. OKC fought back from down 27 to within 10 ’cause a couple Canucks scratched and clawed with the Klaw’s Clippers.
Ultimately, the talent disparity up and down both rosters gave way to a predictable result. The Thunder, despite their fight, lost the battle by double digits. The two teams play again today at 3pm. Most likely, OKC will fall once again in the second battle.
But with the arrow pointing up to the stars on Shai and the Thunder’s future, courtesy of Air Congo, OKC is collecting all the weapons they can to one day win the Western Conference war.
- Shai always looks fantastic even if the Thunder don’t. Watching SGA in some of these blowouts is like watching Adam Driver in the new Star Wars movies.
- The Clippers scored 14 more points than the Thunder at the free throw line. The Clippers beat the Thunder by 14.
- Hamidou Diallo has that 3 second full court beat the buzzer Russell Westbrook speed.
- OKC was 0-12 from 3 in the 1st quarter. Who broke the seal? Poku, of course.
- Clippers beat the Thunder by the same number of 1st round picks they owe them.
- The streak continues: Lu Dort has hit a 3 in every game this season.
- Lu Dort’s last three games: 21 points/4-11 from 3. 20 points/3-6 from 3. 19 points/3-7 from 3. Not bad for a defensive specialist.
- The Clippers may be better than the Thunder, but OKC doesn’t have Patrick Beverley on their roster, so who’s the real winner here?
- On the Fox Sports post game, Nancy Lieberman said she was texting with Billy Crystal about the Thunder and how impressed he was with OKC and she nonchalantly switched to analyzing the game and all I wanted her to do was read her Billy Crystal texts.
- Up next: Thunder vs Clippers round 2 today at 3pm.