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Blue snag crucial victory, surrender Blue Coats 129-114

Saturday’s game pinning the Blue vs. the Blue Coats was not your ordinary G-League contest. Both sides possess some of the top players in the league in Moses Brown and Paul Reed, while bearing zero separation themselves in the win/loss column — a victory here would be pivotal for the playoffs. The Oklahoma City Blue found their rhythm defeating the Delaware Blue Coats 129-114 in a tightly fought contest. For the Blue, Saturday’s triumph moves them to 8-3, good for a 4-way tie for 2nd in the standings. With the loss, Delaware dropped to 7-4 marking the 6th seed in the league, losing out on a much needed tie-breaker. The Blue Coats’ 6-0 streak now looks like a team of the past, searching for answers after losing 4 of their last 5.

Oklahoma City made a quick swap to their starting unit, replacing Jaylen Hoard with Aleksej Pokusevski to start the contest. Paul Reed showed why he is a top dog in Orlando dropping Delaware’s first 8-of-11 points, however a pair of Blue triples countered the rookie. Moses Brown had no issues on the interior, walking in for 4 points in the quarter; however it was Omer Yurtseven’s 11 points that anchored the Blue. Clashing styles of play summartized the first 12 minutes as  8 Blue Coat threes led their scoring output  however Oklahoma City’s variety of shots on 54% shooting kept the game close down 38-35. 

A trio of Blue layups launched a 6-0 run — their presence never slowed down. Oklahoma City swarmed the point to the tune of 20 points in the paint using the interior for a late 12-7 run to even the game 68-68 at half.  Delaware’s 4-of-14 (28%) shooting from downtown forced more inside play, which luckily was supplemented with 14 points inside. The Blue’s near identical 3-of-11 (27%) outing left more to be desired, relieved by more shots coming right under the rim.

Aleksej Pokusevski’s kodak moment surfaced in the opening moments of the third, gliding to a smooth reverse layup around two defenders. The Blue wrapped around this spurt of momentum charging an 8-2 run in the first 2 minutes, returning with two Paul Reed stepback jumpers. Lead changes became a common occurrence in the period, but an Oklahoma City 7-of-10 ending capped on two limitless range threes lifted themselves 96-92 entering the fourth.

Moses Brown caught his stride early scoring four points in the first two minutes en route to a 9-4 Blue run. Blue Head Coach Grant Gibbs stretched the boundaries enlisting a Pokusevski at center lineup — it worked. Oklahoma City tacked five more points onto their streak capturing their first double-digit lead of the game. Delaware honed to replicate Austin’s success late slowing Brown to a 1-of-5 period, but the rest of the squad honed together to build a 20 point lead off a 31-15 run. 

Paul Reed proved why he’s a top player in Orlando ending the day with 35 points (14-of-22 FG.) Reed’s dangerous versatility inside and outside (5-of-10 3pt FG) created pandemonium for Moses Brown and the remainder of the Blue defense. The 21-year-old establishment across the board makes him a very intriguing prospect. Justin Robinson and Rayjon Tucker filled in as sidekicks at the guards, scoring 26 and 16 respectively — though it was not enough. 

Their appears to be a big three forming off the Blue’s bench in Omer Yurtseven, Vincent Edwards, and Ryan Woolridge, accounting for 51 of the team’s 61 bench points, in comparison Delaware’s bench produced 25 points. did much of the heavy-lifting for the second game in a row — clobbering the Blue Coat’s 61-25 off bench points. Omer Yurtseven took home player of the game honors with 26 points and 9 rebounds in a futile 20 minutes. The Georgetown product appears to have gotten his feet wet, using his 7-foot frame to flip in a barrage of inside shots on 11-of-15 shooting (73%.) Vincent Edwards stayed prominent from distance adding 3 triples to his 5-of-11 performance for 13 points. Ryan Woolridge stepped back from his distributing role on Saturday, though his sliced to the basket still netted the guard 12 points. Moses Brown bounced back from Friday’s loss with a strong 19 point, 11 rebound performance. Brown used his 5-inch size advantage over Reed all game collecting finding the mark on 7-of-16 shots. Antonius Cleveland stuck another double-double performance Saturday with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Cleveland’s game has revolutionized across his first 11 games in Orlando, turning from a strictly perimeter shooter to now one of the Blue’s best inside presences. The 28-year-old shot a feeble 1-of-5 on threes, however his 8 points inside coupled with a pair of free throws made up the distance. Rob Edwards impressed in day two of their back-to-back finishing with 14 points. The guard rejuvenated his three-pointer on 4-of-12 attempts from all around the arch. Aleksej Pokusevski crammed the stats with 13 points, 6 rebounds, and a season-high 9 assists. The 19-year-old had slip ups with 6 turnovers though his amplified paid dividends. Pokusevski has left spectators speechless all season long, pulling off mind-boggling plays on a game-to-game basis. His reverse layup will be yet another piece added onto his season tape, and his two quick-trigger threes likely should too.

The Oklahoma City Blue (8-3) will rest on Sunday before suiting back up for a 10 am showdown against the Long Island Nets (4-7.)

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