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Thunder post Summer League-high, cauterize Spurs 116-91

Without the services of Josh Giddey (ankle) and Tre Mann (personal) for their fourth and third respective contests, the Oklahoma City Thunder obliterated the San Antonio Spurs 116-91 in their Summer League finale. For the Thunder, the victory provided zero future implications past a now 2-3 record, but a lot to be happy about moving forward. For the Spurs, their loss came without Spurs mainstays Tre Jones, Joshua Primo and Devin Vassell, but it still inflicted some wounds under a 1-4 record.

Oklahoma City started the evening in a funk hitting just 1-of-7 shots to open the game. On the defensive end, the Thunder had a rough go in slowing down the Spurs’ perimeter-centric roster as six Joe Wieskamp points coupled with a Daquan Jeffries triple set the table for a quick 9-2 San Antonio lead. The Thunder took a more conservative approach in response, looking towards a mid-range Jeremiah-Robinson Earl pick-and-pop and two physical drives to squeeze back into the contest, making it a single-possession game. After applying some pressure, Oklahoma City continued to douse San Antonio with baskets, knotting the game at 14 via a Theo Maledon triple, and bolstering their stance a minute later following a Josh Hall parasail finish and an acrobatic Jalen Lecque penetration to juice their streak. By the time San Antonio called for a timeout, the Thunder had tallied 14-consecutive points, mounting onto a 19 -14 lead. Oklahoma City stagnated in response to San Antonio’s stoppage — but the quiet play lied with both sides. Josh Hall popped the rim out of the basket with a stepback jumper, and a play later — blew right by his man, slashing right for a two-handed jam. San Antonio’s dryspell concluded after a pair of free throws, but the damage of Oklahoma City tallying 19 points unanswered stung. By the frame’s close, the Thunder ended off on a 20-2 streak, and led 26-16.

Joe Wieskamp’s reinsertion for the second period absolved some prior wounds for the Spurs, kicking off a 6-2 opener to put themselves back into the equation. Oklahoma City chomped back with two Josh Hall free throws and a Charlie Brown Jr. layup, but another kick emphasized with a Wieskamp three drew the game to a single possession. The Thunder’s lead ping-ponged between 3-and-5 for a strong duration of the quarter, but a beautiful transition bounce pass from Aaron Wiggins to Jeremiah Robinson-Earl juiced their lead back up to seven. In Robinson-Earl’s transaction, the rookie paused under the restricted area, proned as his defender jumped over him, and put the ball in with a soft touch. San Antonio clapped back on the other end, but just as the first frame had gone — Oklahoma City locked in late. Initiated by five-straight Jeremiah Robinson-Earl points, the Thunder ventured onto an 11-0 run inside the two-minute warning. When the Spurs broke the streak, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl coasted to a layup inside before Theo Maledon spread the icing on the cake, nailing a 26-foot buzzer beater to set the Thunder up 59-37 at half.

Oklahoma City had fired on all cylinders in closing out quarters one and two with a 20-2 and 15-2 run, respectively, but their play expanded all 20 minutes. The Thunder shot 23-of-39 (59.0%) overall in the half while hitting over 40 percent of their threes off a 5-of-12 clip (41.7%.) Jeremiah Robinson-Earl torched the Spurs with a prestigious screen-setting game, weaving through defenders en route to rolling off of screens, and sneaking into pops, at both levels, for open looks. By halftime, Robinson-Earl led all players in scoring with 13 points (6-of-11 FG) and 6 rebounds. Rallying behind the big man, Josh Hall, Theo Maledon, and Aaron Wiggins struck double-digits with 11, 11, and 10 points, respectively. In comparison, Oklahoma City notched a mere three double-digit scorers in both of their previous two contests — they already had four through 20 minutes.

San Antonio had the markings of a successful comeback campaign to start the second half, strumming out an 11-2 opening run, but Oklahoma City stopped the bleeding while up double-digits. As both sides played a round of back-and-forth around the four-minute mark, Rob Edwards provided a spark off the bench to stir up five points in his first minute with a 26-foot stepback and a backdown from behind mid-range to put the Thunder up 18. Rob Edwards controlled the Thunder offense in the final minutes adding to his total with a pull-up triple, and a stepback left-wing bank shot to notch double-digits in the frame, but for one last act — he accelerated inside for two free throws. After Rob Edwards dropped 15 of Oklahoma City’s final 21 points — the Thunder reclaimed a 22-point lead up 86-64 hitting the final frame.

Kameron Woods entrusted his pair of five in Ryan Woolridge, Jalen Lecque, Rob Edwards, Josh Hall, and Emmitt Williams to kick off the fourth quarter — it paid immediate dividends. In efforts to add fuel to Rob Edwards’ flames, Oklahoma City entrusted Edwards with scoring duties to open fourth quarter play, but as time progressed — his heatstroke spread like wildfire, spreading to the remainder of the roster. Josh Hall made his presence known in the period playing rogue to collect four fouls, but also kept the intensity up on the other end to tally six points. In Hall’s kodak moment he hit his man with two push-crosses at the top-of-the-key before blazing past his man for a right-handed dunk. Even despite Hall’s gravity, newcomer Emmitt Williams sneakily stole the show, sounding off 10 points in the frame off a perfect 4-of-4 outing that included a pair of triples. By the four-minute mark, Oklahoma City hit the hundreds — with ninety seconds, a Summer League-high — and by the horn, the Thunder recorded 116 points, just four tallies shy of the all-time record.

Oklahoma City’s finale glazed a bright spot on what had otherwise been a disappointing, injury-riddled, Summer League campaign. The Thunder had their crosshairs locked from the get-go, finishing the night going 46-of-80 (57.5%) overall and 11-of-27 (40.7%) from distance. 

As Rob Edwards put it best, “We got a win for him [Kameron Woods].” For Coach Woods, Monday’s victory marked his first professional win in a head coaching position.

Rob Edwards nailed an everlasting indent into the hearts of Thunder fans Monday leading the team in scoring for the second contest in Vegas by means of 23 points (8-of-18 FG). Edwards failed to send a message in the first half with a feeble two points via the paint, but his second-half burst sent the tone gunning off 21 points. Edwards played a video game late looking to take any and all shots, regardless of vicinity — it worked in his favor. Edwards’ microwave play from his time with the Blue translated beautifully to the grand stage as his surprising quick first step allowed for interior play and mid-range stops while his poise from deep sent a 4-of-8 shockwave laced with pull-ups, catch-and-shoot takes, and shots off screens.

In regards to Edwards’ overall play, his shot-making ability was off the charts, but his body of work had been a product of the entire team. Oklahoma City rattled off 25 team assists on Monday, and while not all came at the hands of Edwards — their graciousness in passing placed him in such a successful position. No matter the schematics of a play, once someone found Edwards, the ball went his way in the second half. Typically, if you’re looking to make a statement in the Summer League, you need to be bolstering your stats for prospective teams. Instead, all ten guys looked to make the best possible plays, and it showed on the score card.

Josh Hall lived up to his late-season expectations boosting his stock with 17 points (5-of-8 FG) and 7 rebounds. Hall entered Monday with a lot of solid moments, but little positive outcomes, he managed to shift the scale back into his favor. Hall lacked any breakout performances last season until his season-finale in which he dropped 25 points and 10 rebounds. In Vegas, it looks as if that sentiment remains the same. Hall received a Qualifying Offer from the Thunder earlier in month, but no pen-to-paper signings have secured him into next year. This game gave Presti some things to ponder about.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl led the starters with 15 points (7-of-13 FG), 8 rebounds, and 4 assists in 21 minutes of run. The second-rounder capped his Summer League experience arguable with his best performance playing more towards a fastbreak-oriented role as opposed to a pick-and-pop piece. Robinson-Earl shanked both of his triples during play, but the 20-year-old let off an astute mid-range game and slashing ability when bumping into contact. Robinson-Earl San Antonio’s frontcourt all game as they had zero match against his mobility.

Emmitt Williams strutted into Las Vegas as Oklahoma City’s lowest rung on the rotational ladder, but his 14-point, 5-rebound outing showed he’s worth closer inspection. Williams acted as the glue to the Thunder’s gameplan shooting a perfect 6-of-6 at all three-levels. Williams excelled at setting high-ball screens and reaping the rewards of help defense as well, shooting 2-of-2 on triples.

Theo Maledon and Aaron Wiggins rounded out the double-digit quintet with 11 and 10 points respectively. Maledon took what was giving shooting an efficient 4-of-6 (3-of-4 3pt FG) in 23 minutes while handing out a team-high 7 assists. Wiggins produced a well-rounded resume with 4 rebounds and 5 assists in his play while also going for a high clip to the tune of 4-of-7 (1-of-2 3pt FG).

For Oklahoma City, their Summer League-tenure has concluded, but their action has not stopped. The Thunder will have to make multiple roster transactions in the next month, and with a depleted Oklahoma City Blue roster — expect to see some Vegas products heading to Bricktown. 

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