Coming into Sunday morning, the circumstances in this game were a tad up in the air. Brooklyn stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were both called to be probable decisions, but it wasn’t until just hours before tip-off the lineups were established. The Nets entered this one with KD, but without Kyrie or Dinwiddie there was a big mountain to climb if they wanted to improve upon their 5-5 record. The same could be said for the Thunder as they were stooped at .500 entering the game, and with Mike Muscala showing clear signs of discomfort, they too would be calling on other players in the rotation.
After a hard fought battle on Sunday, the Thunder were able to run through the Brooklyn Nets 129-116. This win pushed the Thunder to a 5-4 record, good for 6th in the west, while the Nets were bounced to 10th in the standings with a record of 5-6.
For the Thunder, this game was a collective effort, giving everyone their moments to shine. The Thunder had three players scoring 20+, with six players in total reaching the double-digit mark. Shai GIlgeous-Alexander continued his hot streak, topping his season high of 29 (which he had on Friday) by clinching 31 points (11-16,) 6 rebounds, and 7 assists.
Hamidou Diallo seemed comfortable yet again in his home state of New York, posting 25 points (10-14,) 4 assists, and a career-high 4 steals in just 24 minutes at the Barclays Center.
Al Horford was stretching out the Nets defense, piling in 22 points (9-17) including three triples.
These offensive efforts trickled down to other members of the team as George Hill put in 14 of his own while Isaiah Roby and Lu Dort dropped 13 a piece.
Originally, this game seemed like it may have been out of reach for the Thunder, giving up 41 points in the first period alone to their measly 29. Kevin Durant and Caris LeVert were feeling it with 10 each, and SGA was our only real spark in the beginning stages with 14.
That’s when our 2nd quarter lineup came in and made the Nets pay. Hamidou Diallo made an immediate impact, marking up nine straight points in the first two minutes of the quarter. It seemed like a game of 2k through the first 15, with 88 points being put up already, and both teams shooting well over the 50% mark, but things settled down. Defense took over in the latter half of the second, with the Thunder getting seven steals barely past the midway point in the quarter. Things were laced up 51-51 with three to go, but a 12-6 run by the Nets put them up six by half.
The third quarter was a back-and-forth with both sides dishing out blows to their opposition for the first six of the period. That was until Thunder guard Lu Dort lit a fire under the team, drawing two charges and a three ball in the span of two minutes, sparking an 11-2 Thunder run that gave them their first taste of the lead with just over 4 to go.
This run did not stop there however; as the Thunder finished the final six of the quarter on a 26-5 run to give them a 94-81 lead entering the fourth. Emotions were running high for the Nets in this rough patch, as at one point center DeAndre Jordan took matters into his own hands, shoving Hamidou Diallo to the deck for the easy Flagrant One.
The final period made way for another Thunder 7-2 run to establish an 18 point lead, but their biggest scare with the lead came just following this scoring tangent. Kevin Durant asserted himself in a major way in the fourth, scoring 16 of his 36 in the quarter. The Thunder lead dwindled down to eleven with six to go, but a pair of Thunder triples pushed this one out of reach for Brookyln, winning 129-116.
Defense was the real point of emphasis in Sunday’s game win as Hamidou Diallo credits “Taking care of business on defense, that’s leads to everything else.” Their best moment on defense came in the third, where they limited the Nets to just 18 points and held them to 1-10 from deep.
The Thunder will look to continue exceeding expectations as they will be snuggled up at home facing a four-game home stand, with the first of which being vs. the San Antonio Spurs (5-5.)