OKC lost to Miami, but there are many positives

The drudgery of a Monday for the average working adult seemed to be the same for the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday evening’s home matchup against the Miami Heat. After holding even with Miami in the first half, the Heat’s zone defense discombobulated the Thunder to the point where they could never get anything going offensively.

Miami handed OKC their second-straight loss of the week, 103-90.

The Thunder didn’t shoot particularly poorly, either. They shot 41.0 percent for the game, which honestly could be better, but they’ve won games shooting worse than that. As a team, the Thunder weren’t horrible. For the first time that I can remember, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the missing piece for OKC. He seemed out of sorts, and that’s probably due to a combination of Miami’s zone defense impacting the way he plays. His game is primarily dependant on him getting to the paint, and he couldn’t get to the basket. It was a combination of that and PJ Tucker’s superb, physical defense on him.

Gilgeous-Alexander finished the night with 10 points, five assists, and three rebounds. Dort led all Thunder scorers with 20 points, three assists, and four rebounds. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl scored a career-high 16 points and pulled down six rebounds, while Aleksej Pokusevski scored a season-high 11 points. The most slept-on player was Darius Bazley, who didn’t have a great offensive outing, shooting 2-of-7 for the game, had an outstanding defensive night where he blocked a career-high five shots as well.

Shai averages 22.7 points per game, scored 10 tonight and the Thunder lost by 13 points. It would be reasonable to think that OKC would have been in this game down the stretch if SGA would have had his average game.

So, knowing that information, it’s hard to look at this game as a bad loss, or unsuccessful, because as a whole, this was a highly-productive game for four of OKC’s players, and more importantly, a Thunder rookie took a step in a positive direction in JRE, Poku looked more comfortable than he ever has in meaningful minutes, Bazley was aggressive which is always a plus, and Luguentz Dort is starting to make a bid at being a $100M player.

OKC will be back in the Paycom Arena on Wednesday to play the Houston Rockets.

Addam M. Francisco

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

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