With the Oklahoma City Blue kicking off a back-to-back set, the Blue fell to the South Bay Lakers 104-101. For the Blue, the loss splotches them to 4-2 through six games, while for the Lakers, they pivot to a 2-1 record.
Oklahoma City and South Bay played a round of back-and-forth to open the first frame, but a 15-7 surge from the Blue netted them on the high side 37-27 after twelve minutes. In the closing patch of play, Melvin Frazier Jr. ignited off of the bench en route to 10 of the team’s final 20 points while Tre Mann held down the fort for a 12-point 5-of-6 period.
The Blue sourced some perimeter play to queue the second quarter as the group surfaced their first three baskets from beyond-the-arch before a Theo Maledon foul shot hoisted Oklahoma City up 16 off an 11-5 run. South Bay played a round of catch-up in the frame’s middle segment as following a 6-0 run, the group wavered between eight-to-ten point deficits up to the two-minute mark. In the closing two minutes, South Bay covered some distance as after trailing eight, a Chandree Brown Jr. layup coupled with an Andre Ingram buzzer-beating three drew the game to one possession by half at 56-53. The Lakers closed out the period on a 21-5 run.
Oklahoma City’s lead fluctuated heavily in the second half’s opening stages, but following a 7-0 spurt from South Bay — the game had been notched to 64 all five minutes in. The period took hold of three lead changes and three ties, but Rob Edwards handed Bricktown the last laugh, as with the guard placing eight points in a two-minute span — Oklahoma City entered the final frame up 81-77.
The Blue sent out a statement to unveil the fourth quarter as Grant Gibbs’ second unit trumped out a 9-2 stint to begin play — resulting in an 11-point Oklahoma City lead through two minutes. South Bay made a witty response to the additional pressure, as the group sliced the game to single digits a minute later, but the real benefits came on defense. The Blue were choked up down the stretch of the fourth as shot-after-shot, no one could find their stride. Oklahoma City’s hardship from the floor saw the group place an 0-of-10 shot chart from the 8:32 mark all the way to the two-minute warning. By that point, South Bay rode the tides of a 17-0 run, and a 100-92 advantage. The Thunder’s assignees in Theo Maledon and Tre Mann made the game interesting late as the duo blitzed the Lakers inside for a lump of free throws, resulting in a 9-2 run for the Bricktown Boys, and a one-point 102-101 contest with 38 seconds to go. In the Lakers’ search for a bucket Mason Jones drove slashed inside for a layup, sticking the shot through contact for an and-one opportunity. The problem — the free throw missed. With no timeout being called, Oklahoma City scurried in the halfcourt for a three-point try, but a stingy defense forced Grant Gibbs to exhaust a timeout with five seconds to go. In the final play, Paul Watson Jr. sprinted towards the inbounder at the left wing — catch, fire, release — no good. South Bay takes the game 104-101.
Despite a paltry 10-of-34 (29.4%) output from distance, South Bay scraped up their victory with a trio of 20-point scorers in Stanley Johnson, Chandee Brown Jr., and Mason Jones.
Tre Mann shines in return, Theo lives at foul line
After a one-game callup to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Tre Mann returned in style with the Blue logging 19 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in 35 minutes. Mann took the ropes as Oklahoma City’s top option as the 20-year-old launched a team-high 15 shots on Saturday, finding the basket on eight tries. Mann’s stepback was on full display versus the Lakers as the guard stuck a pair of stepbacks during play.
Theo Maledon took a step back from his 28-point explosion Thursday evening, instead carving a secondary role behind Mann. In his 34 minutes of run, Maledon drummed out 14 points, 3 rebounds, and 6 assists. Theo had a rough going converting from the floor, shooting 2-of-9 (1-of-3 3PT) in play, however, the 20-year-old sunk his teeth into the defense to force a strand of foul calls — sinking 7-of-7 free-throw shots. For reference, the Lakers as a collective hit seven free throws (7-of-13 FTM.)
The Oklahoma City Blue saw an offensive jolt from their second unit, as guards Melvin Frazier Jr. and Rob Edwards snuck their way into double-digits.
Melvin Frazier Jr. carried his weight for 17 points and 6 rebounds, finding prominence from both levels for a 6-of-10 shot chart, and a 3-of-4 hit rate from downtown. Frazier Jr. struggled to find much footing in Grant Gibbs’ rotation last season, however, the 25-year-old’s quickfire offense may garner the wing extra minutes if he maintains consistency.
Rob Edwards set the bar high tallying 19 points off the bench on Thursday; he continued his shot-creating excellence Saturday. Edwards accrued 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists across 23 minutes, drilling home 6-of-12 shots. Edwards went a shaky 2-of-6 from distance, however, the 24-year-old more than made up for the disparity, draining a trio of layups and a pair of foul shots.
Outside of Tre Mann and Theo Maledon, Paul Watson Jr. and Vit Krejci fought through spotty play Saturday.
Paul Watson Jr. missed the mark in an attempt to push the game to OT, however, the 26-year-old’s scorecard saw him place 11 points and 2 rebounds across 33 minutes. Watson Jr.
Vit Krejci has seen better days from the floor as the 21-year-old placed 3 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists across 21 minutes, finding the mark on 1-of-2 field goal attempts.
Next up, the Oklahoma City Blue (4-2) will reload their cannons as they’ll face off against the South Bay Lakers (2-1) once more Sunday night in a back-to-back closer.