3 takeaways from OKC Thunder essential win versus Pistons

Steven Adams #12 of the OKC Thunder tries to control the ball next to Tony Snell #17 of the Detroit Pistons during the first half . (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Steven Adams #12 of the OKC Thunder tries to control the ball next to Tony Snell #17 of the Detroit Pistons during the first half . (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Following two bad losses to elite clubs, the Detroit Pistons were just what the doctor ordered for the OKC Thunder. Three takeaways offer insights to the win.

A mini two-game losing streak was on the minds of the OKC Thunder as they traveled to Detroit. Although this was easier competition the Thunder battled hard to try to stay in the match the night prior versus the Clippers. As such the club was fatigued and needed this win.

Although the Thunder avoided their bad habits of starting games slow and not bringing defensive effort out of the break this game wasn’t a gimme.

Even with a 16-point lead at one stage in the third quarter the Thunder were aware of their fatigue level.  Factoring in the Pistons hadn’t played since Sunday in Sacramento meaning they were the much more rested club. By the fourth quarter with their legs burning it took the leadership and calm captaining of Chris Paul to pull out the win. The final score doesn’t accurately communicate precisely how close this game was.

Several choices and actions contributed to the win but none was more important than…

Decision to play Gallo was on the mark:

The OKC Thunder have played in 10 back-to-back sets so far this season. Danilo Gallinari played in the initial three sets but beginning with the December 8th and 9th set he had taken the second game off in each except one full set he missed while out injured.

It appears like a load management choice and it’s smart given Gallo’s injury history and the desire to get him to the playoffs healthy and rested.

That said, the team elected to play Gallo in both games of the back-to-back set and that choice turned out to be pivotal as it was his 3-point shot that put the Thunder up by four points and nailed down the victory. You could almost sense how deflating that triple was to the Pistons who never recovered.

As for the choice to play the Italian in both games, it’s likely the two consecutive bad losses played a role in the decision.

Moving forward, as the OKC Thunder continues down the stretch, the games take on even greater importance. In terms of back-to-back sets there are three remaining:

  • March 17th/18th: versus Grizzlies and Hawks
  • April 4th/5th: versus Clippers and Lakers
  • April 10th/11th: versus Knicks and Grizzlies

It’s conceivable the team will go back to resting Gallo on the second game. Alternatively, seeding could play a factor.

Let’s keep our eyes on this moving forward as where the team is seeded, who they are playing and where the competition resides on the ladder will no doubt play a part in the decision making process.

Holy HOT shooting!

Not since January of 2014 has the OKC Thunder shot the ball like they did on this evening. On a whole, the entire roster shot the ball efficiently. The final numbers were 61.3 percent from the field on 46 of 75 shots.

They were equally adept from the perimeter shooting 41.7 percent on a frugal 10 of 24 attempts. The only spot OKC didn’t shoot as well as they typically do was the charity stripes (70.6 percent on 12 of 17 attempts).


Leading the charge was sophomore  Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who was red hot from the field. If you remove his 3-point shots he missed one shot from everywhere else on the court. SGA connected on 12 of 15 from the field. In fact, the only player who shot under 50 percent was youngster Lu Dort (2 of 5). Every other player to take a shot hit at 50 percent or better.

Part of this is due to smart shot taking and great ball movement something the Thunder is excelling at especially of late.

Get the “FLOP” outta here:

Late in the game on the play where Gallo hit the dagger three, CP3 brought the ball up the court and was surveying the floor for the open man. Brandon Knight who has never been accused of being a great defender flopped back when Paul burned him with the dribble. The announcers on the Pistons broadcast went crazy saying it was an offensive foul. They stopped ranting so loudly on the playback because it was a clear flop.

More from Thunderous Intentions

I mentioned it recently in an article on how a TV crew and former player (Drew Gooden) was promoting flopping being a part of the game. Gooden went as far as saying sometimes that’s the only advantage a team has! That is blasphemy to true hoop heads.

One of the reasons it’s difficult to watch FIFA is all the flopping.  Unless basketball coaches start teaching this as part of the fundamental skill sets kids need to learn it shouldn’t be part of the game. And, if/when the NBA does make that change they’ll lose a big portion of the fan base.

Condoning flopping is wrong and the league needs to crack down on this. It’s impossible to make it through a Rockets game (James Harden), Celtics game (Marcus Smart, Kemba Walker among others) and any number of teams who are constantly flopping. The issue is refs are actually calling these plays in the favor of the flopper. Adam Silver and the officials need to

  1. be more diligent about fining players for flopping
  2. instill something to the rules that dissuade this behavior.

Scan games on any night and if a player breaths on another the ones who are less adept defensively toss themselves backward. Or offensive players will push the defender and then jump back as if they’ve been slighted. The most annoying part of this equation is refs are rewarding the behavior.

The NBA has already done (IMHO) too much to help the offensive player but if they don’t correct this egregious trend it’s only serving to hurt the purity of the game.

dark. Next. Gallinari dagger 3-pointer buries Pistons – grades

Next up the OKC Thunder play the New York Knicks on Friday night in the Mecca and while Spike Lee won’t be in attendance Thunder Nation will all be keenly interested in the match.