Without Thunder assignee Aleksej Pokusevski in the rotation, the Oklahoma City Blue manages to outjest the Hustle 120-106 on Tuesday off of what can only be described as a three-point incursion. With the victory — Oklahoma City pumped their record to 4-1 on the season while Memphis dropped down below the .500 mark to 2-3.
Space-and-pace was on the menu for the Blue early as their proficiency outside put them in the driver’s seat through one. The Blue carved out another run out the gate, cruising to a 10-2 run in the first 3 minutes of play off a mixture of layups and threes. Oklahoma City kept pushing their agenda of playing close to home collecting 18 points — but the three ball is what set themselves apart from the competition. Guided by forward Antonius Cleveland’s 3 triples, the Blue racked together 5 threes on only 6 attempts, helping to edge the Hustle 34-28 through one.
The second quarter was classic tale of two halves (or eighths, I guess?). Oklahoma City’s assertion from the floor continued in the infant stages of the period, coasting to a 17-7 run off of 7-of-12 shooting (58%) (including 3 deep-range conversions) while simultaneously holding the Hustle to 3-of-11 (27%) from the floor. The remainder of the half was barren at best. Both sides shot in the low twenties to close things out, combining for 6-of-28 shooting (21%) to give the Blue a 61-46 lead by the midday point.
Though it became apparent that Oklahoma City had a rough going closing out the second they still had a foundation from downtown. The Blue shot 9-of-13 for an exuberant 69% beyond the arch, with five men cashing in on attempts.
There was a clear shift in play styles from the Oklahoma City Blue come the second half — and though it brought temporary success, it proved to be a negative in the long run. The Blue’s first 9 shots in the third came solely inside, a move that propped a 23 point lead at its climax. Eventually, the Hustle found a way to patch up the paint, but Oklahoma City continued to force up shots, shooting their first three point attempt at the 5 minute mark in the period. In this timespan, the Hustle got their groove, cinching the gap to 16 off a 9-2 run to make it 90-74.
The closing quarter gave the Blue a prompt scare when the Hustle built off their contemporary tangent, adding on to en masse a 17-4 run to cut the game to 10. Oklahoma City reverted back to the three in hopes to push the game out of reach — and it worked. The Blue hit on 5 of their last 6 from outside to help topple the Hustle and claim victory.
The Blue played pop-a-shot from deep the entire way through this contest as their elite 15-of-25 (60%) was good for their season-high of made threes in addition to the league’s best output of the year. The room employed on Wednesday produced an even coat of scoring — with all members of the roster notching a minimum of six points — and six members of the squad cracking double-digits.
Moses Brown led the Blue in scoring for the third-straight game with 18 points, hauling 13 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a steal across 25 minutes. Brown’s has continued to parlay defenses wholly inside with his 7-foot-2 frame still reigning unmatched to this point. The Hustle’s gameplan from the jump was to clog the lane inside for Brown, and while he was limited from another 20-piece, he still cracked an efficient 6-of-10 from the floor. Omer Yurtseven followed in Brown’s footsteps to craft a double-double of his own that formulated 15 points and 13 rebounds, while coming close to a triple-double off 7 of the team’s 25 turnovers (which led to 24 Hustle points.) Ty Jerome was a dominant force on the night, slipping in to reach 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting, adding on 4 assists. The Thunder assignee may have just had his best game of the season thus far opting to stray away from the three point line opting for runners inside coming off Moses Brown screens. Jaylen Hoard filled in for Pokusevski, providing a source of 15 points playing a Diallo-esque role that netted 6 tries at the line. Antonius Cleveland manned the three-point juggernaut burying 4 of his 5 made field goals outside en route to 14 points. Other members of the three-point juggernaut included Melvin Frazier Jr., who dialed up three makes, with Rob Edwards, Vincent Edwards, and Ryan Woolridge, who all sticked two tries.
The Oklahoma City Blue (4-1) will look to continue their three-point prominence as they lock their sights to the Lakeland Magic (3-2,) fronted by former Blue guard — Chasson Randle.