Game 49 Recap: Thunder (29-20) def. Kings (17-30) 120-100natashapanchal.com

Game 49 Recap: Thunder (29-20) def. Kings (17-30) 120-100

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The Lu Dort hype train started out as a fun Thunder meme mined for some good laughs the first few games, but this Lucomotive is beginning to pick up serious steam.

Dort has made an early impression on the Thunder organization and fans by playing top notch defense against top tier talent. In a seven game January stint, the past six as a starter, Lu has drawn the assignment of guarding the opponent’s best scorer. The names read like an All Star roster: Damian Lillard, James Harden, Evan Fournier, Trae Young, Andrew Wiggins, Luka Doncic and Harrison Barnes/Buddy Hield.

It’s been a murderers’ row of scorers, but Dort hasn’t been the one in danger. Dort is the danger. He is the one who knocks.

Dort’s pesky prowess defensively has given Thunder fans visions of a young Andre Roberson dancing in their heads, and then the Kings game happened.

The Canadian combo guard (sound like anyone else you know?) erupted for 23 points on 8-12 shooting, including an eye-popping 5 of 6 from 3 point range. This ain’t your grandma’s Andre Roberson.

Granted, the Kings’ defense isn’t exactly the 85 Bears.

Granted, a one game sample size would lead you to believe that a rookie Terrance Ferguson hitting 6 3’s and throwing down two Sportscenter Top 10 dunks against the Lakers would become an all-time Thunder legend.

Granted, Dort only shot a respectably pedestrian 33.3% from 3 in 13 G League games and a meh 30.7% from 3 in 34 college games.

But given the Thunder’s haphazard history with shooting guards who can shoot, “pedestrian” and “meh” is music to OKC fans’ ears. Dort showing signs of life from 23 feet feels like Presti finally found the holy grail. This breakout game featured snipers Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Danilo Gallinari, and Dort outshot them all.

If this Kings game is a sign of things to come and Dort can sustain even a league average 3 point percentage on top of the ability to handle the ball, drive to the rim, and continue to play defense the way he has been, then Presti can stack one more building block alongside Shai. Oh, Canada.

All aboard the Dort Hype Train.

Chug-a Chug-a Chug-a Chug-a Lu Lu!

Notes:

  • I realize that was the corniest way to end a game recap of all-time, but I’m leaving it.
  • The Thunder are now tied in the win column with the Mavs and Rockets. The Mavs and Rockets play on Friday, while the Thunder plays the Suns. If OKC wins, they’ll be guaranteed to be tied for the 6 seed.
  • Oklahoma City has won six straight road games. That’s tied for the 2nd longest streak in Thunder history.
  • Thunder fans have understandably been concerned about Steven Adams since coming back from injury. Just an eye test thing, but tonight is the first night since he got hurt where he looked like his normal spry self instead of an extra in The Walking Dead.
  • A lot has been made of SGA and Bazley, but an underrated skill they both share that hasn’t been talked about much: both of them know how to block a shot. That Sam Presti length and athleticism flex.
  • The Thunder held the Kings to their fewest 1st quarter points of the season (16).
  • With apologies to Darius Bazley and Hamidou Diallo, Lu Dort really might be the Thunder’s second best young piece moving forward behind Shai.
  • Dennis Schroder attending  Chris Paul’s Lob City 101 classes have led to much better alley oop passes to Nerlens Noel. There was a play tonight when Schroder was looking right at Noel for a lob, then made a point to look away at the last second as he tossed it up just to get the no-look highlight.
  • Chris Paul is shooting 36.4% from 3 on the season, but I swear he would be at 46.4% if you took away all his end of quarter half court and full court heaves. He’s the anti-KD when it comes to caring about his percentages in those situations.
  • Dort got whacked hard in the head with a Harrison Barnes elbow and SMILED as he fell down to the ground. He’s got that Steven Adams blood running through his veins.
  • 29 other NBA GM’s are kicking themselves tonight for passing on Lu Dort, not once, but twice in this year’s draft.
  • Shai’s 3 point shot has risen from the grave. After a 5 game struggle in which he went 0-9 beyond the arc, SGA hit 3-6 on Monday against the Mavs and 3-5 tonight against the Kings.
  • Shai had a nice all around night with 17 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal.
  • Schroder continues his march towards the Sixth Man of the Year trophy. The super sub once again led the Thunder in scoring with an efficient 24 points and 9 assists.
  • Chris Paul returned to the lineup after missing Monday as he mourned the loss of his close friend Kobe Bryant. CP3 struggled to score with only 9 points on 3 of 12 shooting, but he dished out 10 assists and grabbed 7 rebounds. Most importantly, his overall impact on the game was obvious after realizing what life would be like without Paul’s presence.
  • This Thunder squad is the definition of team basketball. Any given night, the top 3 scorers can be any combo of SGA, CP3, Gallo, Schroder, Adams, or even Bazley, Muscala, Noel, and now, Lu Dort. No egos, nobody cares about stats, chemistry is off the charts. What a fun team.
  • Up next: at Phoenix on Friday. Poor Devin Booker’s first game against Luguentz.