OKC Thunder vets key winning effort over Mavericks: 3 takeaways

Chris Paul #3 of the OKC Thunder and Danilo Gallinari #8 celebrate after a play during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chris Paul #3 of the OKC Thunder and Danilo Gallinari #8 celebrate after a play during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
DECEMBER 31: Danilo Gallinari #8 of the OKC Thunder handles the ball against the Dallas Mavericks (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Danilo Gallinari is much more than just an offensive beast:

Without Danilo Gallinari in the lineup the past four games the Thunder have suffered through segments of the game when the offense comes to a grinding halt. This is particularly evident in first and third quarters albeit it’s been a common trend throughout the season.

It’s not just Gallinari’s high basketball I.Q. and sweet stroke which bolsters the offense. The keys are his ability to spread the court and perhaps less recognized, but equally important, Gallo’s unselfishness and recognition of the moving the ball from a good shot for him to a better shot for a teammate.

It’s common for players to experience rust in return games (of the first few games back). After 11 days off the hardwood, Gallinari’s perimeter shot was experiencing the rust effect.

Through the initial three minutes of the third quarter, the Thunder scored four points and the team was in jeopardy of falling into one of those stagnant offensive stretches.

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That was until Gallo connected on three 3-pointers in succession. (Notably, the Thunder shot 6 of 27 from deep).

And yet, it was a defensive swat that marked his best play of the game. With just under 30 seconds remaining and the Thunder leading by a single point, Gallo was aligned defensively against Doncic.

As Luka made his move adeptly backing into the post, Gallo moved laterally to stay connected with Doncic, and as the wunderkid turned back to his left the Italian reached in and stripped the ball tapping it toward Steven Adams.

Although there were still sets to play and the game was by no means sewn up that one defensive play was the key to the victory and turning point in the match.

The Thunder will likely rest today with Thursday marking the start of a tough four-game road trip starting in San Antonio.

dark. Next. Thunder own clutch time versus Mavericks – player grades

TI hopes you enjoyed the turn of the calendar and wish you a Happy New Year. Let’s make 2020 a year to remember!