OKLAHOMA CITY- Post All-Star Break, everything has gone right for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Building on their win over the Denver Nuggets, the Thunder scorched the San Antonio Spurs 131-101.
After a back-and-forth first half, Oklahoma City played their best quarter of the season.
Outscoring the Spurs 37-18, the Thunder dominated all facets of the quarter. Thunder head coach Billy Donovan credited the huge quarter to an increased focus on rebounding.
“Because we rebounded a little bit better in the third [quarter], it allowed us to get out in transition a little bit more,” he said.
“It allowed us to play faster and that was helpful to us kind of getting going offensively.”
Undrafted rookie Luguentz Dort took center stage in Oklahoma City’s dominant victory with a great performance on both ends of the floor.
“I mean defensively, he’s a beast,” Thunder guard Dennis Schroder said. “He changed the game.”
“He’s big for us right now.”
Still playing on a two-way contract, Dort has settled into the offense and is playing with the confidence of a seasoned veteran.
“I’m just getting more comfortable,” Dort said.
“All my vets like Dennis [Schroder], Chris Paul, and [Danilo Gallinari] are just telling me to play and don’t even think, and that is what I have been doing.”
Dort was locked in from the jump, leading his team with seven first quarter points and shooting a perfect 3-of-3 from the floor.
Paul said the biggest change in Dort is the level of confidence he is playing with.
“Sometimes a lot of guys are scared to mess up,” he said.
“Earlier when [Dort] got to us, he wouldn’t have taken the shots he takes now.”
The baton was then handed from Dort to a bevy of other teammates across the game as Oklahoma City put in another complete team performance.
Eight Thunder players scored in double figures by the end of the night, the most to ever log double-digit scoring nights in franchise history.
“Day in and day out, you don’t know who’s going to have the hot hand,” Hamidou Diallo said.
“A lot of weapons on this team.”
The second half onslaught allowed Paul to get some much needed rest in the fourth quarter. Despite ending up just one rebound short of a triple-double, Paul said he was fine with not having to re-enter the game in the final 12 minutes.
“It’s been a while since we had a game where we had a chance to sit and rest,” Paul said.
“I could care less, I’ll take the rest.”
Oklahoma City’s hot start out of the All-Star Break positions them to chase home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Schroder said despite the success, the players still know there is much to be done in the final 25 games to end up where the team wants to be.
“Keep practicing. Getting better each day. Try to keep everybody accountable,” he said.
“Try and stay locked in for the playoffs.”
Oklahoma City hits the road to face the Chicago Bulls in thier next matchup.
The game will tip-off at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night, but pre-game coverage starts at 6 p.m. on 107.7 The Franchise.