Five Thoughts: Thunder barely survived, but they did

After a historically bad 47-point loss last week against the Milwaukee Bucks and a sub-par performance on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Oklahoma City Thunder got back on track on the road in Detroit, winning 114-107, despite a ferocious 21-8 run by the Pistons to start the fourth quarter.

Why did Detroit make that run? How was the Thunder able to overcome Detroit’s run? Who stood out and who folded tonight for OKC? Here are Five Facts providing more clarity.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander got back to aggressive basketball.

Shai is young and talented and has all the attributes to be a superstar in the NBA except for one, and it’s important: aggressiveness. In OKC’s loss to the Clippers, Shai shot 58.3 percent from the field, but only got 12 attempts up and only scored 15 points. Against the Pistons, SGA stepped it up, seemed more engaged, more hungry and thus, more aggressive. He finished with 27 points on 12-of-15 shooting and added 2 steals to that. His performance played a lead role in getting the Thunder this win.

Steven Adams is back to being ineffective offensively.

It’s hard to categorize Adams but I think I’ve figured it out. He’s just inconsistent. He’s not that great, but he’s not that bad either. He’s just inconsistent. After a stretch of basketball where Adams was extremely dominant, combining for 112 points on 46-of-82 shooting over an 8-game span (14 ppg on 56 percent shooting), he’s combined for just 20 points on 11-of-16 shooting over the last three games (6.6ppg on 68.7 percent shooting). His shooting percentage is great, but he’s not getting the shot attempts he needs to make a true impact on the offensive end. Coincidentally, the Thunder have slumped in their last three games that Adams has struggled.

Dennis Schroder stepped up big-time.

Schroder will be a finalist for 6th Man of the Year, and it’s because of the way he’s played here lately, but especially on Wednesday night against the Detroit Pistons. Schroder scored 23 points and added 9 assists and was the definite second option for OKC against the Pistons.

Chris Paul played well, but let’s not forget the turnovers.

Chris Paul stopped the bleeding through a few of Detroit’s runs on Wednesday night along with Shai and Schroder, but often, Paul was the culprit behind Detroit going on the run in the first place. Chris scored 16 points on 70 percent shooting which is spectacular, but that masked his six turnovers, which almost cost OKC the game in the end. This is atypical for the veteran point guard so no worries, move along.

The Thunder stayed above 60 percent shooting.

This saved the day for OKC. They shot 61.3 percent for the game and 41.7 percent from three. With their defensive lapse late in the game, the Thunder were walking on thin ice. The only thing that kept them out of the fatal freezing water was their shooting percentage. While they couldn’t stop the Pistons from scoring, the Pistons couldn’t stop them from scoring either, and basically, OKC got the last word on offense, which resulted in a win.

Addam M. Francisco

Founder & Editor-in-Chief. National Association of Black Journalists. University of Central Oklahoma.

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