The Oklahoma City Thunder traveled to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies on the second night of a back-to-back and fell 122-113. The Thunder were without Al Horford (rest) and George Hill (Thumb) but that was not the only adversity the team had to deal with. The OKC Thunder did not land in Memphis until after 4 p.m. for an 8 p.m. tip-off! The team traveled straight to the arena, changed, warmed up, and played a basketball team for the second straight night.
The drop-off in energy and effort in the fourth frame was noticeable but understandable. After starting the 4th quarter tied, Memphis extended a 15 point lead in the frame, their largest of the night, after OKC went cold offensively.
The big story in this loss was the return of OKC Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. SGA missed the last four games nursing a knee injury and returned tonight to the tune of 22-points, six assists, and three rebounds. SGA shot 42-percent from the floor and 40-percent from beyond the arc which is surprisingly a touch worse than his season average from the floor (50-percent). Even in his first game back, SGA showed little-to-no rust. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander got to the line a stellar 8-times and went perfect from the charity stripe. The Thunder becomes much more exciting and entertaining when SGA steps on the floor.
Rookie Theo Maledon, who cracked the starting lineup again tonight, had a breakout game in Memphis. The 19-year-old rookie displayed incredible court-vision, despite only tallying two-assists. Maledon knocked down four (4!) triples in this game on his way to 14-points. The rookie is wise-beyond his years helped out by playing professional ball for years overseas. Theo Maledon will be an impact player in the future for the OKC Thunder, but what role will he be in? I still think Maledon will be an incredible sixth man moving forward, but he has the rest of this year and beyond to change that narrative.
For more on this game, including what we learned about Mark Daigneault, check out today’s Locked on Thunder.