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Ah, nothing like starting off a road trip against the Western Conference runnerup Nuggets and a double header against the shoulda coulda woulda Western Conference runnerup Clippers to snap the Thunder out of their silly winning ways.
After flirting with .500 or better throughout the first 1/6 of the season, Oklahoma City has dropped three straight games to fall to 6-9. Nice. For Team Tank, I mean!
The Thunder are now in a three way tie with the Houston Rockets and Miami Heat for the 6th worst record in the NBA. OKC owns the two best 2021 1st round draft picks between, you guessed it, the Thunder, Rockets (top 4 protected) and the Heat.
While OKC has started losing enough to quench the thirst of tankers, the team hasn’t lost the entertaining, high effort and energy edge to satisfy Team Compete. The Thunder, without their second (Olivia’s opinion) or third (my correct opinion) best player in Al Horford, twice took on the team tied for the best record in the NBA and both times, the young core played well enough to give OKC fans that confusing cocktail of “I don’t know if I should root for us to win or not” emotions.
Sunday’s second game in 42 hours against the Clippers was close to a carbon copy of the first contest. On Friday, Los Angeles led 36-18 after the 1st quarter. On Sunday, Los Angeles led 36-19 after the 1st quarter. Friday, OKC went 0-12 from 3 in the 1st quarter. Sunday, OKC went 0-9 from 3 in the 1st quarter. Friday, the Thunder outplayed the Clippers the rest of the game and cut a 27 point lead down by 17 came up just short. On Sunday, the Thunder outplayed the Clippers the rest of the game and cut a 17 point lead down Friday, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander matched Kawhi Leonard and Paul George basket for basket and looked every bit as good as both stars. Sunday, Kawhi towered over all others, but SGA rose above the grounded PG. George, take no offense because in your defense, nobody has any offense against Lu Dort’s defense.
OKC is interested in five things this season and all boxes were checked against the Clippers.
Shai continues to raise his game and rise into stardom. George Hill continues to keep his trade value high by scoring 22 points, including 3 straight 3s in crunch time. The other young players showed flashes, with Darius Bazley notching a near double double, Isaiah Roby notching an exact double double, and Hamidou Diallo scoring 14 on 6-9 nice shooting. The game was entertaining and competitive. And the team got one step closer to a top 5 draft pick.
These losses don’t feel like losses because the Thunder are accomplishing their goals. And while watching Shai, Dort, Bazley, Diallo and Roby make a comeback against the contending Clippers is exciting in the moment, the real excitement is this thought:
If these young players can compete like this now, what can they do when they’re old enough to rent a car and OKC adds a Cade Cunningham or Evan Mobley?
Nothing like finishing off a road trip against the Western Conference 4 seed Blazers and frenemy Chris Paul and his new young core followed by a welcome home game against the KD, James Harden and Kyrie traveling circus to get three steps closer to finding out that answer.
- Breaking: Kawhi Leonard is releasing a Thunder themed shoe to celebrate the Clippers’ win against OKC.
- Patrick Beverley missed the second half due to knee soreness. The Clippers were never able to replace his invaluable complaining to the refs.
- How good has Lu Dort shot from 3 this season? He was 0-6 from 3 vs LAC and he’s still shooting over 40% on the season.
- Let’s pour one out in honor of Lu’s 3 point streak.
- Mike Muscala continued his streak of hitting at least one 3 in every game, but at what cost? Moose was 1-9 from long range.
- George Hill played like a future 1st round pick.
- Shai: 23 points on 8-16 shooting, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 turnovers. Paul George: 11 points on 4-13 shooting, 4 assists, 5 rebounds, 4 turnovers. Thunder got the most important win.
- Up next: OKC vs Damian Lillard and his Thunder themed shoes tonight at 9pm. Lame, Dame.