The OKC Thunder routed the Hawks to extend the win streak to four with individual standout performances heading three takeaways.
As the OKC Thunder returned home for a single game before heading right back out getting an easy victory was worth its weight in gold.
That’s precisely what the Thunder got with Atlanta in town. Although the Hawks sit at the bottom of the East and has the second-worst record in the NBA they are still a fun group to watch ( no — seriously). Perhaps not the showing they delivered in OKC but it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine their future being bright.
Just imagine what a vet of the ilk of Chris Paul could do for this young group.
Trae Young will start in the All-Star Game and much of the reason behind this acknowledgment is courtesy of the fun style Atlanta plays. On this night, however, the Thunder swarming defense didn’t allow the young Hawks to get hot on the perimeter where they do most of their damage which leads us into the three takeaways.
No drop off with Dort:
Consider the players Dort has lined up across from through these past four matches (the last three as a starter). Damian Lillard, Markelle Fultz, James Harden, and Trae Young! That’s a who’s who of talented guards (Fultz being the only outlier – but he’s dramatically improved).
Notably, Hamidou Diallo got the start versus Portland so Dame’s 34 points were more on him than Dort.
Granted James Harden is in a funk, yet the 9 of 29 and 1 of 17 from deep the former Thunder star struggled with are at least partially credit to Dort’s dogged defense. Likewise, he was in Fultz’s grill throughout the Magic match. Trae Young was held to 7 of 20 from the field and 2 of 8 from deep with Dort taking the primary defensive assignment.
T.I. writer Rylan Stiles brought up a great point regarding the defensive minded Dort. The Canadian was first team all-defense in the Pac 12 of his freshman year and fell just shy of votes to the eventual Defensive Player of the year senior Matisse Thybulle. Thunder fans are witnessing first hand why that praise was well warranted.
The young Canadian has played so well when TFerg does return there should be some serious thought given to maintaining his playing time. While everyone expected Hamidou Diallo to take a step it’s been the rise of Dort which should give Billy Donovan some pause regarding minute allocation in the future.
Gallo back on track:
After an off shooting night in Orlando, Danilo Gallinari was back in the groove and led the team in scoring with 25 points. As for the particulars check out this gaudy efficiency of the Italian:
- 7 of 10 from the field (70 percent)
- 4 of 6 from deep (66.6 percent)
- 7 of 7 from the line (100 percent)
Gallo added his typical treasure trove of goodies with six rebounds, three rebounds, and a steal.
It pains me to think Gallinari will wind up on another squad. For so many years the Thunder have searched for a stretch four and they’ve finally got one of the best in the business and might not be able to retain him. Insert the ongoing TI typical rant “Please Sam Presti find a way to keep Gallo!”
SGA feasts as he prepares to return to the scene of the crime:
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander delivered again and on this night it was his aggressiveness which stood out. On the season SGA averages 5.0 trips to the charity stripe but in this match, he took more than double that average with 13 trips to the line. The Canadian filled up the stat sheet with 24 points, three rebounds, six assists, one steal, and three blocks.
In retrospect, the precise moment the sophomore seemed to flip the switch to be more aggressive it was tied to the match seven games ago (January 13th) in Minnesota. At the time Billy Donovan asked SGA to use more force and aggression, particularly on the glass.
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Revisiting that contest it was SGA’s first triple-double of the massive 20-20-10 mark. And, as T.I. has noted in the six games since that night he delivered three consecutive double-doubles (Portland/Houston/Orlando).
That he has a triple-double and three double-doubles in seven games after collected two double-doubles previously is remarkable.
No doubt Ryan Saunders will have Robert Covington and others invested in stopping the young OKC Thunder star in tonight’s match.
That simply means Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari, and Dennis Schroder will likely get more shot opportunities. And, that will suit SGA and the team fine as they continue to be one of the most balanced teams in the association.
Check the preview later this morning in preparation for tonight’s match and make sure to mark Thunderous Intentions on your daily must-visit website list.