Shorthanded Thunder fall to Hornets in preseason battle

Jaylin Williams #6 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jaylin Williams #6 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

After losing two big leads in their first two preseason games, the OKC Thunder flipped the script and made a late comeback in Charlotte that ultimately fell short.

In their only true preseason road game, the Oklahoma City Thunder lost to the Charlotte Hornets 117-115. The OKC Thunder made a run to get within one late in the fourth quarter, but the Hornets staved it off and closed the game out. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer but could not get his layup to fall.

Shorthanded OKC Thunder unable to finish comeback in Charlotte falling in second straight preseason game.

The OKC Thunder could not play to their defensive identity throughout the game, as they forced 12 turnovers and scored 14 points off of them. The Hornets shot 52.3% from the field as they crossed the 100-point mark on the first possession of the fourth quarter.

Oklahoma City rested many key players, including the entire starting five. With many players out, it allowed those who played to fight for spots in the rotation.

Robinson-Earl helped his case to make the regular season roster. The Villanova product’s off-ball movement and activity helped him post eight points and five rebounds. Robinson-Earl’s playmaking inside gave him five assists and helped the Thunder get several good looks.

The Thunder’s starting center from last season had another excellent outing. Jaylin Williams scored 18 points and nine rebounds in his second preseason appearance.

Tre Mann tied Williams with a team-high 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting. Mann helped the Thunder get back in the game and finished with eight rebounds.

Vasilije Micic continued to make his case for a spot in the Thunder’s rotation as the lead guard off the bench. Micic’s playmaking helped set him apart as he dished out eight assists and made a clear impact offensively despite his underwhelming shooting numbers.

The Thunder stayed within a possession or two for most of the first half. The Hornets had chances to pull away, but the Thunder answered everything thrown at them.

Then Charlotte blew the game open in the third quarter, extending its lead to as much as 18.

Oklahoma City struggled with Charlotte’s size throughout the night. Oklahoma City sent Charlotte’s big man duo of Mark Williams and Nick Richards to the line for 17 free throw attempts combined.

With his efficient scoring, PJ Washington helped the Hornets get their six-point halftime advantage. Washington scored 20 of his 31 points in the first half and hit five threes on the night.

Meanwhile, Hornets star LaMelo Ball helped them get things going in the second quarter on his way to 16 points, six rebounds, and six assists. In Ball’s 24 minutes, the Hornets outscored the Thunder by 21.

A Thunder player has left with an injury for a second straight game. After making his second start of the preseason, rookie Cason Wallace left the game with a sprained left big toe and did not return.

Despite the loss, the OKC Thunder got a valuable look at their players and may have helped with their roster decisions. The OKC Thunder get their next chance to assess their guys on Tuesday against the Milwaukee Bucks in Paycom Center.

Next. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander highlights an underrated aspect of the OKC Thunder. dark