Thunder Knicks Basketball

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Luguentz Dort runs down court in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Friday, March 6, 2020, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The Thunder’s comeback victory against the 76ers Sunday fit what fans have come to expect from this year’s squad.

After a Matisse Thybulle layup pushed the Sixers lead to 81-57 with 3:37 left in the third quarter, the Thunder’s reserves went on a 13-0 run to close the third quarter and cut the Sixers’ lead to 11. Oklahoma City's bench kept the momentum going in the fourth quarter, as they reduced the Sixers lead to two with 1:51 remaining in the fourth. 

From there, it might have been Disney magic that helped cap the Thunder’s successful rally.

With less than a minute remaining, Thunder guard Devon Hall attacked the rim and found a wide-open Andre Roberson in the left corner. Roberson caught the pass, set his feet and made the three to give the team a 1-point lead.

Hall attacked the rim on the next possession and found Roberson on the right wing, who calmly drilled the shot to give him back-to-back 3-pointers and help seal the Thunder’s 102-97 victory.

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the team with 16 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. Center Steven Adams chipped in with 11 points and nine rebounds. Sixers guard Ben Simmons finished with a near triple-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

After Friday’s 98-84 victory against the Celtics, Sunday's scrimmage gives the Thunder two wins in as many scrimmages at the Disney bubble. As the Thunder prepares for its final scrimmage on Tuesday before the seeding games begin next weekend, here are four things to know from Sunday’s victory.

Sloppy play from the starters 

The Thunder looked like a team that hadn’t played in four months for most of the game. It was a particularly tough outing for the team’s four top scorers.

Gilgeous-Alexander shot 5 of 15 from the field, Danilo Gallinari and Chris Paul both finished 2 of 8 and Dennis Schroder shot 3 of 13 for a combined 27% mark from the floor for the team’s main scoring threats.

The rough shooting was especially on display in the third quarter. The team failed to score for nearly four minutes, as the Sixers defense, led by Simmons, overwhelmed the Thunder with length and athleticism.

The rest of the team didn’t shoot much better, finishing with 38% shooting from the floor and 29% shooting from behind the arc. The team also combined for 16 turnovers. 

Sunday’s outing was a drastic drop off from Friday’s scrimmage, where the team shot 52% and 33% from three. 

Lugentz Dort continues to make an impact

The Thunder’s recent signee was a bright spot for the team. Dort finished with 13 points and two rebounds on 4-of-7 shooting in 21 minutes. He also made two 3-pointers in the first quarter.

Dort was more active on the offensive end and looked to attack the rim on several possessions. One such attack ended in an impressive reverse layup between two Sixers defenders.

Thunder coach Billy Donovan even inserted Dort as the point guard to lead the reserves during the fourth quarter. Dort will likely rarely play the point once seeding games begin on Aug. 1, but it seems Donovan is encouraging Dort to be more comfortable when the ball is in his hands.

Roberson continues progressing

Roberson followed his 5-point, 2-rebound debut with another solid showing on Sunday. He finished with six points, six rebounds and one assist during 15 minutes.

After years of discussion regarding his outside shooting, Roberson has shown flashes of progress in the Thunder's two scrimmages. He has made three of his four 3-point attempts, and has looked comfortable taking those shots.

It’s unclear what role Roberson will have, if any, once the season officially restarts. It’s unrealistic to expect Roberson will continue shooting at this clip, but if he can continue improving on both ends of the floor, Donovan could look to give Roberson a bigger role.

Competition for bench minutes

Seven of the team’s playoff rotation players are likely set with Paul, Gilgeous-Alexander, Gallinari, Dort, Adams, Schroder and Nerlens Noel.

While teams typically shorten their rotations during the playoffs, there are likely a few minutes that are still up for grabs. The competition for those minutes will likely include Darius Bazely, Hamidou Diallo, Terrance Ferguson and Abdel Nader (currently in the NBA’s concussion protocol).

Bazely had some nice moments on Sunday and finished with nine points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes. Both Diallo and Ferguson struggled to make an impact, however, on Sunday.

Ferguson played just seven minutes, going scoreless and recording only one rebound. Diallo finished with two points and two rebounds in 15 minutes.

There is still one more scrimmage, but the bench players looking for playoff minutes will need to have better showings on Tuesday.

Up next

Tuesday’ Thunder scrimmage against the Portland Trail Blazers is set for 5 p.m. The game will air on FOX Sports Oklahoma and WWLS-FM 98.1.

Recommended for you