The Oklahoma City Thunder took on the short-handed Brooklyn Nets to start a four-game homestand on Friday and gave up the most points in team history (Since the move to OKC) while facing a Nets team that did not have Kevin Durant. The Thunder lost 147-125, but such is life in this season. Losses will happen, bad losses will happen, but there are still things to learn from this game.
The biggest standout in this game was Theo Maledon, who had a career-night going for 24-points, 3-assists, 3-rebounds, including tying the best single-game shooting night from distance (6-for-6, with Caron Butler). Maledon was thrust into the starting lineup earlier this week after George Hill was sidelined with a Thumb injury. While there is no timetable on Hill’s return just yet, Mark Daigneault did say he does not want to “Back ourselves into a corner.” When asked if Maledon will lead the bench unit once Hill is back.
Theo Maledon had a fantastic shooting night, gave SGA a reliable option from downtown, and also brings versatility to the team. Not only was Maledon able to uncover a new version of his game by playing off-ball but “He is a point guard.” Mark Daigneault reminded those of us in the media, which allows him to be the lead ball-handler at times even with SGA on the floor, which allows the future All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to play off-ball in a familiar role to the one he was in a year ago at times.
The 19-year-old read the Nets backdoor cuts well at times and was able to play the passing lanes better than I thought he would at this stage in his career. If anyone is worried about Theo Maledon being dead set on being a point guard, he told us after the game “I am comfortable” playing both the point guard and shooting guard position something he did a lot of in Europe.
SGA continued to play at an All-Star level Matching Maledon’s total of 24 -points while dishing out five assists, four rebounds, on an effective 70-percent shooting from the floor and getting to the line 13 times something he has been accustom to so far this season. This will be a massive week for SGA’s All-Star campaign as he has a chance to try to beat up on the Rockets twice, and T-Wolves twice after a weekend off he will also get Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday off this upcoming week to rest and prepare.
Darius Bazley quietly had a very productive game, he was tasked with defending James Harden to start the contest, but offensively he put up 14-points on 55-percent shooting, 2-for-5 from beyond the arc, five rebounds, and four assists to go along with a steal and a block. One of his best games of the year has been overshadowed by one of the THunder’s worse losses. However, you have to be optimistic he can build on this game moving forward.
The Thunder falls to 8-10 but has a very favorable week ahead with a pair of games against the Rockets and Wolves coming up. For more on this game and the Thunder season, check out Locked on Thunder.