Bricktown Beat

Blue washed by Raptors 115-93

Aleksej Pokusevski (17) caps off a standing dunk as Raptors guard Nik Stauskas (11) gazes in awe.
Photo Credits: Oklahoma City Blue/NBA G-League

With only 8-of-18 G-League teams advancing to the playoffs, every game matters. The only thing standing between the Oklahoma City Blue and a playoff birth on Wednesday was the Raptors 905 — they couldn’t pass them. Oklahoma City took their first real thrashing of the year in a 115-93 silencer, and now their future still remains in the air. Oklahoma City despite the loss still reigns as the top team without a birth to playoffs, mounting an 8-5 record. The Raptors with the win are knotted in a three-way tie at 10-3 for first place between the Bayhawks and Warriors, who both are on the Blue’s schedule.

Oklahoma City’s defense could not encage the Raptors for more than a moments notice, seeing their last lead dwindle at 4-2 in the first, and falling behind ever since. The Blue sufficed their biggest hole of the season off a 3rd quarter 18-4 run that plopped the Raptors up 36 points. The Blue made a small push outscoring the Raptors 33-26 in the final period, but this game was way out of reach.

This very well was the first night where the Blue’s bigs were downright outplayed. Big man Alize Johnson locked down at the helm while running up 19 points and 19 rebounds. Henry Ellenson, one of the league’s most decorated stretch bigs, managed the 4 and 5 with a game high 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting, sprinkling on 5-of-11 tries from three.

The Raptors continuous attempts at closing down the paint pushed the Blue to their breaking point, opting instead on perimeter looks. Usual marksman from deep in Rob Edwards and Vincent Edwards went cold turkey, shooting 1-of-6 and 1-of-5 respectively. The Edwards pairing led the drought, but no one seemed productive, trotting out a team percentage of 20.7% on 6-of-29 tries.

The Blue’s Ol’ Reliable in their inside game was strained the most seen all year. Oklahoma City won the points in the paint battle 58-54 however their point spread came all over the place.

The lack of inside play left no primary scorer etching their highest point total being 12 — from Jaylen Hoard. Moses Brown may have eased too much into his 4-day mini vacation scoring a season-low 8 points (3-of-9) with 9 rebounds. This game should have been a surefire 20+ point outing on paper, tipping off against 6-foot-7 Alize Johnson, but nothing came easy for Brown. Omer Yurtseven shot an efficient 3-of-5 to produce 10 points and 7 rebounds on 19 minutes, yet it was not enough. Yurtseven’s relegation to the bench may have been a misstep on Coach Gibbs part. The Georgetown product had just come off his career-high 34 of points on Monday, so a dropoff was inevitable. Antonius Cleveland shot 4-of-11 for 11 points almost entirely on slashes to the basket. Rob Edwards notched double-digits in his transition back to the bench with 11 tally marks, though as mentioned, the shot was off adding up to 4-of-12 on the night. Zavier Simpson had the most well-decorated performance for the Blue with 8 points (4-of-8 FG), 7 rebounds, and 6 assists in 27 minutes. Simpson’s shooting slump from last week had carried over going 0-of-2 Wednesday, but it was freshening to see the 24-year-old orchestrate the offense smoothly. Though Oklahoma City never rallied around anyone, one of this games’ biggest oddities came in the fact all 11 of Oklahoma City’s players posted atleast five points.

The Oklahoma City Blue (8-6) spring right back into action Thursday to face another Goliath in the Erie Bayhawks (10-3.) Just like Wednesday, this contest is a must win. A victory vs. the Bayhawks locks them into a playoff spot, and with Erie fresh off a 121-91 bludgeoning from Santa Cruz, this is there best shot at staying afloat.

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