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Injury-riddled Thunder spiral late, drop to Warriors 94-84

Without the services of first-round selections Josh Giddey (ankle) and Tre Mann (personal), the Oklahoma City Thunder entered their match against the Golden State Warriors as clear underdogs. Despite a valiant effort, the Thunder could not shake their title — falling to the Warriors 94-84. For Oklahoma City, the loss pits them below the five-hundred mark, now clawing to a 1-2 record. For the Warriors, this victory reeled themselves back into Summer League contention, currently propped to a 2-1 record.

Oklahoma City showed no sign of weakness collecting three early slashes inside to hang with the Warriors. Theo Maledon padded the scorecard nailing two straightaway triples in this span pushing the Thunder up 12-9 four minutes into the contest. Theo’s barrage of triples seeped into the roster’s second unit as immediately after insertion Rob Edwards and Oscar da Silva canned themselves a three-ball to keep their head above Golden State’s grasp. Edwards’ reign continued throughout the frame as the 24-year-old played a one-man offense straddling of nine first-quarter points with a triple, a tip-in, and two floaters — one of which came in the final five seconds of playtime. By the first horn, Oklahoma City led 32-27. 

The Thunder’s second unit kept on the gas to start the second bundling up a 7-0 run to garner a dozen-point lead, but a Moses Moody three and Jordan McLaughlin stepback sunk the Thunder’s lead down to single digits. The discourse of matching shots rolled on throughout the frame but three Warriors triples commanded a 9-1 streak — and a single-digit game. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl clotted the Thunder’s wound with a triple and pullup jumper, but Golden State kept their activity up. This sentiment reasserted itself on the half’s final drive as Jonathan Kuminga took Jaylen Hoard at the top-of-the-key, blew by him with two crossovers, and soared a step in from the foul line for an appeasing right-handed jam. Oklahoma City kept up a peg 52-51. 

The Thunder’s first-half success is in large part due to Rob Edwards. Edwards kept quiet in Oklahoma City’s first two contests, but his quick 14-point explosion expanded the team’s floodgates to downtown — that was not a reliable option prior to Friday night. In all, Oklahoma City nailed 8-of-15 (53.3%) triples in the first half while shooting 20-of-36 (55.6%) overall. For the Warriors, the pairing of Moses Moody and Gary Payton II accounted for five threes, and 23 combined points. Golden State had their own form of perimeter prominence going 8-of-19 (42.1%) from the floor while also hitting 19-of-41 (46.3%) shots. The main kicker from the first half — both sides combined for a paltry 14 free throws.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Aaron Wiggins recouped the Thunder’s three-point confidence with an early triple apiece, but six Warriors free throws among Moody and Kuminga cinched the deficit to one. Once Golden State’s free-throw tangent wore off, their interior work glistened through to salvage a 7-0 run, and a 70-64 lead. The Oklahoma City Blue duo in Ryan Woolridge and Rob Edwards tilted the scale back their way closing out an 8-1 run with a Woolridge layup, an Edwards pullup, and three Edwards free throws following a foul. The Thunder entered the fourth up a point 72-71.

Oklahoma City and Golden State stuck to their forte to kick off the fourth quarter, but a completed Josh Hall layup looked to have swayed the game in the Thunder’s favor, it did not. From just inside nine minutes to inside six minutes, there was a stalemate — there was a lid on the basket. Jordan McLaughlin uncased the basket with a 26-foot triple, but Theo Maledon strolled right up the court for one of his own. Golden State edged a two-point lead with four minutes to go until Rob Edwards sprung back into action with a stepback three, washing it with two Aaron Wiggins free throws a play later. By that point, Oklahoma City led 84-81. Running into the three-mark, the Thunder caught wind of a Moses Moody hook shot and a Justinian Jessup three, the lead had been lost. As Oklahoma City plead for a bucket, three-consecutive turnovers dug their grave and Golden State pushed a 9-0 run to lead by six. Oklahoma City sought to remedy through a Theo Maledon floater, when that missed, Rob Edwards launched a triple, also, no good. By the buzzer, Oklahoma City had missed the mark on their final seven shots, Golden State ended on a 5-of-7 shooting spree — taking the game 94-84.

Despite coming in as the underdog, Oklahoma City kept their foot in the door until the final stretch of play. The Thunder took a major leap from downtown hitting 14-of-33 (42.4%) threes on the night while nailing 12-of-16 shots from the charity stripe. The team’s major downfall came from the interior shooting a mere 15-of-40 (37.5%) from that range.

For Golden State, their mid-forties shooting display had been overshadowed by their lottery duo — and rightfully so. Moses Moody looked unconscious during the game notching 22 points off of an 8-of-14 showing that included both floaters and jump shots. For the Warriors’ other selection in Jonathan Kuminga, he tallied 18 points and 7 boards in 26 minutes. Kuminga laid a 1-of-5  egg from distance, but a clear emphasis inside yielded two rim-rattling jams and seven trips to the line.

Rob Edwards threw back to his Blue days coming off the bench for a game-high 23 points (8-of-15 FG). Edwards met his status quo from the perimeter hitting 4-of-7 triples off a combination of stepbacks, pullups, and even a shot coming off a pass fake. Edwards’ high-tempo took full swing crossing the timeline as while playing as the initiator he ousted the competition both penetrating and popping from the left side. 

Theo Maledon rattled down 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in his 32 minutes working as a wingman. Overall Maledon went 5-of-10 from the field, but all five hits came from three, only taking eight shots to do so. 

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl completed the triangle of double-digit scorers paving out 10 points and 9 rebounds in his 27 minutes. JRE stuck to the basics of a stretch five looking to pop off of screens and put away and freebies under the basket. 

Starters Aaron Wiggins and Jaylen Hoard struggled to find their groove shooting 2-of-10 and 0-of-6, respectfully. These consistent misfires helped Golden State create some instant offense, but I wouldn’t fret about either of them heading into the next game.

The Oklahoma City Thunder (1-2) storm back into action tomorrow to face the Indiana Pacers (1-2) at 5 pm CST. The contest will mark the Thunder’s final game before championship/consolation play.            

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