Game Recap: OKC 108, DEN 99

Written by on October 14, 2021

The Big Picture

In its third preseason matchup, the Thunder faced a fully loaded Denver roster on the front end of a back-to-back. The squad took the lessons from its first two matchups of the preseason along with the weeks of practices under its belt and walked away with its first win of Training Camp.

After falling behind early in the first quarter, the Thunder went on a 23-9 run in the first to take a lead against Denver and hardly looked back. Maintaining its energy throughout the game, OKC led through the remaining three quarters behind a strong defensive effort coupled with an impressive offensive performance that saw six players finishing in double figures.

Moments from the 48

Defensive Carryover
While the Thunder’s offense hummed at a high level throughout the night, it was its defense that kept the team ahead. The Thunder held Denver to just 40 percent from the field and 11-of-44 from the 3-point line. It was a lesson that the group focused on during practice following its game against Milwaukee – being physical from the start and making it difficult for the opponent to get to the spots they want.

“In the Milwaukee game, I just thought the competitive edge and aggressiveness that we needed to have to compete with a team like that and get stops against a team like that wasn’t to the level that that game required and tonight it was a totally different story,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault. “I thought we did a great job of not only being disciplined and fundamental but really competing.”

First Look at Favors
The Thunder got its first look at big man Derrick Favors in the lineup after he missed the first two games with knee soreness. The 11-year veteran showed his offensive efficiency in the pick and roll, finding the open spots on the floor and finishing short floaters around the basket. By the end of the night, Favor finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting

“It felt good,” said Favors. “I’ve been putting in a lot of work during training camp. I was putting in work before games and after games. So, it felt good to just get out there and get up and down the court, trying to build that chemistry and just go out there and have fun.”

Buckets by Baze
Darius Bazley led the Thunder in scoring with 16 points, 13 of which came in the first quarter. In the opening frame, Bazley went a perfect 4-for-4 from the field which included 2-for-2 from behind the arc. The third year forward also racked up eight rebounds and added a steal to his stat sheet against Denver.

“I was really impressed with just his ability to stay within himself in those [first two] games, even though he didn’t play great and it paid dividends tonight,” said Daigneault. “He just kind of stayed the course he’s remained consistent, and that’s a good lesson for him.”

Young Closing Lineup
The Thunder’s closing lineup consisted of its four rookies, Josh Giddey, Tre Mann, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Aaron Wiggins along with newcomer Gabriel Deck. The lineup closed out the game going up against Denver’s starting five and yet held their own on the defensive end, turning steals and stops into transition opportunities on the other end of the floor.

“It felt great,” Giddey said in his postgame interview with Bally Sports. “To close it out like we did with our young guys on the floor, was really good to see.”

The Last Word

Josh Giddey on closing out the game strong…
“It was fun. Especially with the crowd going and having those young guys out there playing against Denver’s best guys out there until the last couple minutes. For us young guys to close it out, it’s a good learning experience playing against the talent that we did. It’s preseason, so win or loss we’re not overly worried but for us to close it out tonight with the win was good progress from what we made in Charlotte and in the Milwaukee game and I think coach would be happy with that with how we handled ourselves on the defensive end.”

Coach Daigneault on seeing how the group responds in a back-to-back…
“It’s good opportunity to prepare for the regular season. This is what you have to do. You have to give this type of effort for 48 minutes, and then turn right around the next night and do it again in a different city. So it’ll be interesting to see how we respond.”

What’s Next

It will be a quick turnaround for both the Nuggets and the Thunder as the two teams take a trip up I-44 to face each other on Thursday inside of Tulsa’s BOK Center. The game will be the fourth and final preseason game for the Thunder.

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