Thunder Journal: Suns Outshine Thunder B Team 128-101
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It’s a bit difficult to take writing a game journal entry seriously when the Thunder vs. Suns contest in question wasn’t taken all that seriously from the OKC side.
Since Oklahoma City was playing their B Team and C Squad, I considered doing the same and asking Olivia Panchal or John Napier to write this article. Then again, though the Thunder rested 5 of their top 6 guys, their very best player Chris Paul did play, so I suppose I’ll follow suit and suit up.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, Dennis Schroder, Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel all sat out against Phoenix.
That’s the Thunder’s #1, #2, #3, #5 and #6 leading scorers. Or in raw numbers, that’s 75.7 points per game. OKC averages 110.4 points each time they step on the floor this season. So if OKC was going to give the undefeated 5-0 Bubble Suns and their hilarious social media managers their first loss in Orlando, who were they planning to step up and chip in three quarters of a hundred worth of points?
Darius Denayr Bazley.
The #23 overall pick in last year’s draft followed up his career high of 23 points set just 26 hours prior with 22 points and 10 rebounds, his first career double double. Maybe an even better all around game than his Wizards showing, Bazley scored in every way imaginable: long distance bombs, midrange jumpers, a handful of dunks and knocking down free throws.
Bubble Bazley is averaging 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds, and he’s shooting 42.8% from 3 and 90.9% from the free throw line. He’s scored in double digits in 4 of 6 games.
And to start the Suns game, it appeared as if CP3 and Bazley may form an unlikely dynamic duo and pull off the improbable win. The Thunder raced off to a 15 point 1st quarter lead. And then the Suns rose.
Devin Booker is a scoring machine, and every time I see him play, it hurts to know the Thunder was 1 pick away from drafting him. Instead, OKC ended up with “no ceiling” Cameron Payne, best known for being Russell Westbrook’s dance buddy. Ironically, Payne rose from the ashes of NBA exile to resurrect his career with Phoenix, and he’s caught fire at Disney.
The I-can’t-believe-he’s-still-only-23 Booker scored 35 points on a ridiculous 17 shots, including a shot so deep it would make Dame’s logo launch blush.
Once the Thunder had to dip deep into their bench and the Suns’ second year big man Deandre Ayton checked in, a massive OKC lead dwindled into a 1 point deficit at halftime. After the break, Booker and the Suns’ unquenchable thirst for the playoffs made easy work of the Thunder’s patchwork squad.
Ultimately, the Thunder lost a game they had every intention of not winning. The question becomes: do the Thunder even want to win? Or are they resting all their players to jockey for a certain playoff matchup? Would they prefer to tank so they could retain their 1st round draft pick? Is the only concern at this point to have every player healthy for the playoffs?
The Thunder don’t care about wins or losses at the moment. So neither should we. It’s all about developing Bazley and Dort and being completely rested and fresh for the playoffs.
And on those fronts, this 27 point loss was a big win.
- The Thunder in the Bubble: WLWLWL. The Heat are in trouble on Wednesday night.
- OKC is currently the #9 seed, just above the Pacers and Jazz. If the Thunder slip 2 spots, they will retain their 2020 1st round pick.
- With so many teams resting players, things change quickly in The Bubble. Yesterday, it seemed like the Thunder were a lock to play the Rockets in the 1st round. All of a sudden, the Nuggets loom once again as a possible opponent.
- Big congratulations to the Phoenix Suns. Going 6-0 in The Bubble, each win so important for their playoff hopes, is no easy feat regardless of the opponent. Can’t help but to root for them to pull off the unthinkable.
- Andre Roberson hits a 3 in perfect rhythm and with no hesitation. We’ve seen enough to believe that Dre’s shot is better than it used to be.
- I’m fully convinced Chris Paul could lead Michael Cage’s church league team to the NBA playoffs.
- Bubble Bazley broke his career high twice within 26 hours.
- Mike Muscala continues his hot shooting. Moose scored 11 points and hit 3-6 3 pointers. I hope Donovan can find Musky minutes in the playoffs. He can help..
- “Deonte Burton played 32 minutes” should’ve been my entire article because it’s the perfect synopsis of this game.
- Hamidou Diallo must have a ton of traffic tickets because he only sees a green light.
- Darius Bazley in the post-game: “I think the biggest change, and it’s something I should’ve been doing from the start, defensively I’ve been more vocal. That’s the biggest thing I’m proud of. The game is starting to slow down for me.” You’ve been warned, NBA.
- Up next: Thunder vs. Heat on Wednesday night. Just imagine how different each team’s playoff projections would look like right now if Miami would’ve pulled off the Danilo Gallinari trade at the deadline.