With the Oklahoma City Blue reshuffling the deck with nine new faces and a pair of Thunder assignments, they didn’t lose a beat — clobbering the Salt Lake City Stars 118-63 in their regular-season opener.
The Blue and Stars kept within striking distance for the entirety of the first quarter as Oklahoma City led by single digits at 23-17. However, as the second quarter commenced — so did the Blue’s outburst of baskets. Oklahoma City trifled Salt Lake City in the second quarter churning out a three minute, 12-0 hotstreak to push the Blue up 15 points. After Nino Johnson broke up the Blue’s pocket of gold, production ramped up yet again, accruing seven-consecutive points to harvest a 22-point led with three minutes to go, by halftime — the Blue had latched onto their beefy lead at 57-36 by the half.
Salt Lake City played a game of back-and-forth to open the third quarter, however, as the game hit the eight-minute mark — Oklahoma City took over. After a 3-of-6 opener, the Stars lost their luster, going hitless from the floor in the final eight minutes of the frame en route to an 0-of-12 excursion including a blank 0-of-6 slate from beyond the arch. In the fault of the Stars, the Blue made the most of the situation, blowing the door wide open scoring 21 points unanswered in an 8-of-13 shot chart that left Salt Lake City hopeless, ending the frame down an astronomical 47 points — heading into the fourth quarter at the Blue’s mercy down 89-42. In all, the Blue outscored the Stars 30-6 in the frame.
The fourth quarter saw both sides clear out their benches as the onset with the frame came with little-to-no implications. To add insult to injury, the Blue stacked their lead into the 50s after a Rob Edwards three hit the half-century mark 90 seconds in, continuing the hang onto the benchmark for the majority of the period. Salt Lake City’s offense saw a bump in production in the final 12 minutes, but it still came with some bumps, taking until the five-minute mark for the group to reach 50 points. At the end of the night, Oklahoma City stood at their highest lead of the contest, taking the victory up 118-63.
Grant Gibbs managed to disperse his minutes across the entirety of the roster, placing 14 members on the hardwood throughout the evening. Oklahoma City’s production remained a constant regardless of who rolled out as the roster shot an astute 54.2 percent (45-of-83 FG) while keeping to a high-standard from deep at 41.2 percent (14-of-34 3PT.) The Blue’s “play as one” montra tapped into other aspects of the floor aswell as they outrebounded the Stars 54-37 while assisting on 33 field goals — the Stars hit bottom on just 25 attempts Friday.
The Salt Lake City Stars were down for the count 20 minutes in, and simply put, they could never get things going again. The Stars shot a paltry 32.5 percent (25-of-77 FG) on the evening while hitting less than a quarter of tries from distance, ending the night on a 9-of-37 coldspell. Baylor alum Macio Teague was the Stars’ only reliable source of offense on Friday with 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting, while first-round G-League selection Zaire Wade had been the only other double-digit scorer with 10 points (4-of-7 FG.)
The Blue’s point spread saw seven different members notch double-digits, leading to everyone on tap receiving their own moments.
Paul Watson Jr., D.J. Wilson, and Olivier Sarr all hung a team-high 14 points on Friday, finding production both in first half and second half roles. Watson Jr. got in sync from distance nailing 5-of-9 attempts while honing in from three for a 4-of-7 hit rate. D.J. Wilson’s night consisted of much of the same as the 25-year-old unleashed four triples, though he only hit one. To cover his losses, Wilson worked inside to finish the night off a 5-of-10 clip while adding 11 rebounds for a double-double. In the case of Olivier Sarr, the rookie unleashed in his bench role marking his 14 points (6-of-10 FG) along with 7 rebounds and 3 assists in a mere 16 minutes.
Thunder assignees Tre Mann and Vit Krejci tacked on impressive debuts scoring 11 and 10 points, respectively on the night. Mann neared double-double status as the first-round pick coated his 11 points (4-of-9 FG) with 8 assists, utilizing his nimbleness to tap inside for dump-offs. Krejci played second fiddle as a playmaker, however, the 21-year-old showed up in his first real game in over a year, posting 7 rebounds and 3 assists to go along with his scoring column.
Returning forces in Jaylen Hoard and Rob Edwards concluded Oklahoma City’s double-double machines as both members felt right at home with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Hoard shot an uber-efficient 5-of-8 in his 18 minutes of time, tacking on 2 rebounds and 3 assists in his venture. As far Edwards, the sophomore stuck to a catch-and-shoot role shooting 3-of-7 on the night with a 2-of-5 clip from downtown.
Next up, the Oklahoma City Blue (1-0) will complete their baseball set against the Salt Lake City Stars (0-1) on Sunday.