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Injury-plagued Thunder continue cold-spell, slide 132-108 to Pistons

With Oklahoma City introducing newcomers Jaylen Hoard and Justin Robinson, the Thunder were not able to bandage their six-man injury list, falling 132-108 to the Detroit Pistons. For the Thunder, their three-game losing streak has added them a few more ping-pong balls, gliding to the seventh-best lottery odds with a 20-30 record. For the Pistons, their victory marks the fifteenth of the season at 15-35 while being slotted in a two-game cushion for the third best odds.

The Thunder directed almost all of their early efforts around the basket, shooting 4-of-5 shots in the paint while Detroit looked outside, buying 3 of their first 4 makes (all off Josh Jackson.) Oklahoma City saw a familiar face four minutes inside as former member Hamidou Diallo entered the contest and immediately drew flashbacks — isolating right into Aleksej Pokusevski for a softly-touched layup. Diallo’s layup sparked yet another first quarter plundering as the Pistons blitzed the Thunder with 17 points unanswered to a 26-8 lead. Oklahoma City drove a 7-2 lead to ease their deficit employing their two new additions in Hoard and Robinson to close the final two minutes. A Hoard layup coupled with a Robinson drawn charge helped inflate the Thunder late to be down just 30-19 through one.

 Thunder preseason standout Frank Jackson took control in the second quarter’s onset collecting five of the Pistons’ first twelve points imposed unanswered by Oklahoma City. Newcomer Justin Robinson snapped that streak tallying five straight points before taking a major shoulder from Josh Jackson driving to a layup — warranting a flagrant one ruling. Robinson’s quick trigger offense projected onto the rest of the offense clapping back with a 12-0 run of their own. Detroit held a double-digit lead until Theo Maledon broke the seal with a 50-foot bounce pass knifed to Svi Mykhailiuk. By the first half’s closing, the Pistons climbed back up 58-47 at the buzzer.

Detroit got the better of Oklahoma City from the floor converting on 46.9 percent of tries compared to the Thunder’s 37.5 percent. The Thunder’s had little cohesion in the first twenty-four as a hefty amount of shots came out of left field, hoisting into sweltering contests. Isaiah Steward became a prominent figure for the Pistons, clobbering Moses Brown to a blank 0-of-3 while working inside 15 feet to claim eight points.

In the first two minutes of the third, Oklahoma City dwindled their deficit to seven before the Pistons responded with an 8-0 run to prop themselves up 15. Following the same trend, every time the Thunder made any sort of progress — the Pistons replied with the same amount of force. At the Pistons’ highest point, the team took the upper hand by 23 points, but a steady 12-of-22 (55%) barrage from the Thunder ended the frame 93-77.

Mark Daigneault and Dwayne Casey kept their young pieces out to spur the fourth period, however; Detroit continued to assert themselves, pillaging an advantage going into the twenties while indulging on an 9-of-12 start to the season (8-of-9 makes inside.) Kenrich Williams was removed from the contest in the infancy stages of the quarter, visibly hobbling up-and-down the court before being pulled for an ankle sprain. Upon Williams’ removal Daigneault tested with Jaylen Hoard and Justin Robinson for the distance, exchanging shots with Detroit, but amounting little success.

The Pistons topped the Thunder shooting above fifty-percent from the floor while shooting 13-of-28 from distance (46.4%.) Former Thunder members Jerami Grant, Hamidou Diallo, and Frank Jackson all tacked on double-digits Monday scoring 21, 11, and 10 points respectively.

For Oklahoma City, their 42-percent shooting bunched with a paltry 18.5% success rate downtown (5-of-27) set this game into stone.

“There are points of the season you just kinda have to endure…you have to battle up, taste your own blood a little bit…it [having little success with a lot of injuries] obviously isn’t easy,” said Daigneault.

Aleksej Pokusevki posted a team-high 19 points (8-of-19 FG) in the contest, reaching the third time in the past four games the 19-year-old has tallied 19 or more.

Takes on what has made Pokusevski spike his performance as of late has been debatable. Mark Daigneault credits “getting simpler” and having a “tighter” game, Aleksej attributes “feeling more comfortable on the court with the ball” as his mainstay — but as Brandon Rahbar speculated — it may be his fanny pack.

When asked about his fanny pack Pokusevski stated, “I’m so sorry. I have to keep it a secret,” giving off a smirk before proceeding his interview. As Rahbar stated, Poku hardly shows emotions, so there’s real reason to believe he may be hiding something here. What’s in the pack? a bag of chips, earbuds, keys — I think not — he definitely has “Jordan’s Secret Stuff” in there.

Svi Mykhailiuk numbered 17 points (5-of-10 FG) against his former team, attacking the basket for six free throws, and hauling in a career-high four steals.

“It was great just seeing the guys from the other team.. [I] had a great relationship with everybody it was great going out there to see everybody,” added Mykhailiuk postgame. Both Svi and Hamidou Diallo showed a great deal of gratitude speaking with their former teams after the buzzer.

Moses Brown battled harshly against Isaiah Stewart and Tyler Cook all night, finishing with 11 points (4-of-7 FG) and 5 rebounds, but nothing came easy. Brown got stood up by Stewart almost all night as the big swatted four shots during the night, using his burly 6-foot-8, 250-pound frame to blockade Brown from any easy look. Brown and Cook ensued in a shouting match to close the game exchanging choice words upon hauling in rebounds and making positive plays under the basket. This jawing should’ve come to surprise as Brown and Cook had prior ties back in February in which Brown had been outscored 26-22 by Cook in a nail-biter that slid Oklahoma City’s way — Brown won the individual battle 11-9 Monday, but Cook won the war.

Thunder newcomers Jaylen Hoard and Justin Robinson finished with 10 and 9 points sequentially. Hoard (4-of-10 FG) was credited by Moses Brown for giving “100 percent” in this game, and it’s clear to see why. Just as Brown always does, Hoard snagged 4 of his 6 rebounds on the offensive side hovering around the cup for loose change. Robinson showed some promise rifling cross-court passes and spotting up for jumpers (3-of-7 FG); however his 5 fouls in 24 minutes signaled some caution.

Next up, the Oklahoma City Thunder (20-30) will face the shorthanded-Charlotte Hornets (25-24) Wednesday, squaring off with LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward out of the picture.

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