Shai Gilgeous-Alexander name-drops Kyrie Irving following Thunder win over Mavs

Mar 14, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2)
Mar 14, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Following an underwhelming performance against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night, the OKC Thunder had themselves a redeeming effort at home against the Dallas Mavericks.

Without Luka Doncic, coach Jason Kidd relied heavily on the likes of his second backcourt superstar Kyrie Irving, who came out of the gates running as he dropped 9 points and 6 assists in the first quarter alone.

This trend would be contagious for the Mavs as a whole and would flow right along into the second quarter, where they would wrap up the first half scoring 63 points while shooting a highly efficient 51.2 percent from the floor and 46.2 percent from distance.

Fortunately, the Thunder were able to keep a slight edge with their offensive play by converting on an even grander 53.5 percent from the floor and 45.5 percent from deep for 65 points. However, in order to pull out win number 46, they would need to step up their efforts on the defensive end to curb Dallas' momentum.

Right from the start of the third, it seemed that's exactly the mentality Mark Daigneault's squad had and, in turn, helped pave the way toward their ultimate triumph, where Oklahoma City scraped out a hard-fought 126-119 win.

Following the contest, superstar Shai Gilgeous-Alexander dished on his team's crucial defensive uptick during the final half of action, noting that the goal was to be "disruptive" on the defensive side of the ball and, ultimately, to halt Irving's astounding offensive start.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander praises defensive efforts of OKC Thunder

"We just wanted to be disruptive defensively. Kyrie especially was too comfortable in the first half. A talent like that you can't let get comfortable because he can get out of hand."

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Though Irving would still wind up wrapping up with an astounding 31 points night, 20 came in the first half prior to OKC's defensive lock-in.

In the second half of action, the Thunder seemingly shadowed Dallas' players to a tee, leaving them little breathing room and, ultimately, forced them into coughing up the ball nine times while getting their shots swatted four times during this stretch.

One of the best units in the league on the defensive end this year, OKC showed Kyrie and company just why they're ranked fifth in defensive rating and second in steals per game.