The San Antonio Spurs made the OKC Thunder look like chumps just 12 days ago by waltzing into the Chesapeake Energy Arena and toppling the Thunder 114-106. In a dramatic turn of events on Sunday, the Thunder faced the same Spurs team, got some act-right and beat coach Greg Popovich’s team by 28 points, 131-103.
Eight players scored in double-figures for the Thunder which eclipses any other team performance in Thunder history but the story tonight is centered around the play of Steven Adams and Luguentz Dort, who played an impressive game. Better yet, both Dort and Adams have been impressive in their last two outings.
Steven Adams has played the way we all anticipated him playing through this entire season. It’s refreshing to see OKC’s seven-foot-one big man play with as much power (at times) and finesse (at times) as Adams has been playing. Against the Spurs, Adams scored 21 points and pulled down 14 rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting. LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t have an answer for him. Truth be told, Aldridge didn’t have an answer for Adams on the offensive end of the floor either, scoring only eight points on 3-of-10 shooting.
Since the All-Star break (the last two games) Adams has combined for 40 points and 31 rebounds on 15-22 shooting. I’ve been critical of Adams all season long and it has been justifiable but he’s playing an impressive brand of basketball right now.
Dort is the biggest surprise because unlike Adams, we didn’t see this coming. None of us that cover, or are fans of the Thunder knew that Dort could play like this mostly due to him being a two-way rookie, that wasn’t even drafted.
This undrafted rookie may be the answer to OKC’s long-tenured desire for a shooting guard that can score the ball and defend. It’s been a long-time coming. From Kevin Martin to Andre Roberson, to Terrance Ferguson, the Thunder haven’t found a player that can do both at a respectable level. Dort is the only shooting guard that has shown confidence on both ends of the floor.
Against the Spurs, Dort scored 15 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting and stole the ball three times. Over the last two games, he has six steals. His fearlessness and confidence at just 19 years old is the excitement that encompasses this kid. Not to mention, since Dort is a two-way player, he has 45 days to play with the Thunder and that includes practices. For him to play in as many games as possible, Dort hasn’t been practicing with the team that much, if at all.
So just an interesting thought for Thunder fans to take with them: Imagine how good, imagine how beneficial Dort could/will be for the Thunder down the stretch and into the playoffs once he becomes a regular in practice. It could get very dangerous for the opposing team’s premier perimeter scorer.
For the Thunder to win a playoff series, Steven Adams and Luguentz Dort will have to play exactly like this and frankly, I think it’s possible. Whether OKC wins a series or not, there isn’t a team in the NBA that wants to face them.