The mini-series against the Los Angeles Lakers speaks volumes about the makeup of this Thunder team. They were vastly shorthanded, being only able to field squads with the bare minimum number of players to have a game, yet competed incredibly hard. They took the defending champion Lakers to overtime in back-to-back games, which is incredibly impressive. The fact that they managed this while playing undermanned makes it even more. While yes, the lakers were without Anthony Davis for both matchups, the Thunder were without SGA for the second game, and still made both contests incredibly close matches.
OKC has always maintained a culture of perseverance and resilience, traits that are absolutely personified by this current squad. SGA demonstrated his star talent in the first game, singlehandedly willing the team back into the game, and forcing overtime. Lu Dort shook off rough shooting performances and played outstanding defense while also furiously driving to the rim. Hamidou Diallo manned the helm as the point guard for a game and was his typical self, bringing relentless energy and determination to the court. Kenny Hustle was a pest on the glass and scored key buckets to keep OKC in the games. Al Horford was fantastic in both games, showcasing his perimeter shot-making and soft-touch near the basket.
While an 0-2 result may be disappointing, this trip should be seen as a resounding endorsement of the Thunder’s culture, and the people inside the organization. Coach Daigneault has received complete buy-in from the players, and the developmental progress of the team has been remarkable to watch. Every player has contributed positively to the team, and shows clear signs of development, with some such as SGA, Dort, and Hami making dramatic leaps. OKC prides itself on its culture and strong developmental staff, and that pride is completely warranted and well deserved.