After winning the 2013 NBA Orlando Summer League outright, the defending champions are struggling mightily to repeat the feat so far. Coming off of an 84-63 beating from the Grizzlies, the Thunder were looking to get back into the swing of things yesterday against the 76ers.
The game actually stayed close for most of the 1st, with the score 15-14 in favor of the Thunder with 2:26 to play in the quarter. That’s when the Sixers sparked a 9-0 run, most of which was compiled at the charity stripe, to establish a 23-15 lead with 1:01 remaining in the opening period. Pairs of traded free throws would render the score 25-17 in favor of the Sixers after 1.
While the Sixers held the obvious edge in momentum at that stage, the Thunder were not quite ready to go away at that point, hanging within 8 to 10 points of the Sixers until the 4:47 mark of the 2nd quarter. That’s when the Sixers sparked another run, this one a 9-1 run that blew the game wide open for the Sixers, giving them a 44-28 lead with 1:13 remaining in the opening half. Pairs of traded free throws ended this quarter as well, and the score was 46-30 in favor of the Sixers at halftime.
Finding themselves in yet another halftime deficit, the Thunder continued to grind away. The problem for the Thunder was that they weren’t doing it fast enough, as the lead was still 14 for the Sixers (67-53) going into the 4th quarter.
The 4th quarter saw a promising start from the Thunder, as they were able to pull within 10 (70-60) with 7:01 on the game clock. The problem for the Thunder at this stage of the game was that they had simply run out of gas. Despite being able to pull within 7 (78-71) at the 1:18 mark, the Thunder defense was unable to hold until the end, as the Sixers dropped 6 unanswered points before a meaningless Andre Roberson lay-up with 1.3 seconds on the clock. The final buzzer sounded, and the Sixers were able to breathe as they’d held off a late-surging Thunder squad to claim an 84-73 victory, which marked their second consecutive of Orlando Summer League play to this point. The Thunder, on the other hand, are now staring down the barrel of an 0-2 record at this time.
There were several bright spots for the Sixers, as 4 of their players finished in double figures. A 2nd-year player, Casper Ware led all scorers with 20 points off of 8-for-16 (50%) shooting, including 3-for-7 (42.9%) from beyond the arc. 32nd overall draft pick K.J. McDaniels, and undrafted rookie Travis Bader finished with 13 points apiece, and another undrafted rookie by the name of Ronald Roberts Jr. finished with 12 points for the Sixers.
I definitely noticed better effort from the Thunder this go-round however, as they also had 4 players finish in double-figures. 4th-year prospect, Mario Little led all Thunder scorers with 18 points off of 3-for-7 (42.9%) shooting, including 2-for-5 (40%) from 3-point range. It casts his performance in a very positive light as well when taken into consideration that Little came off of the bench to accomplish that. 2nd-year players Steven Adams and Andre Roberson, as well as 55th overall draft pick Semaj Christon, all finished with 12 points apiece.
They may be 0-2 at this point, but all they can do is play on. They finish the third game of a back-to-back-to-back tonight at 7pm/6pm CST as they face the Brooklyn Nets. And, as you may already be aware, you can catch every minute of the 2014 NBA Orlando Summer League exclusively via NBA-TV. Don’t miss it!