TULSA — A sloppy first half was quickly forgotten when the Oklahoma City Thunder exploded in the third quarter. Outscoring the Atlanta Hawks 35 to 16, the Thunder took a seven point halftime lead and ballooned the lead to 16.
“I thought we were a little bit sloppy in the first half,” Billy Donovan said after the game. “We certainly turned it over too much and we fouled a lot in that first quarter and we never were able to get into any kind of flow. I thought we played much better in the third.”
They never looked back, winning 113-94.
Paul George led all scorers with 22 points on 5-of-16 shooting. A lot of his damage was done from a combination of the foul line and the three point line. George shot 9-of-10 from the charity stripe as well as 3-for-8 from downtown.
This included George picking up three first quarter fouls.
“In a regular game, I would take him out in the first quarter after two, but when he got four, I just thought ‘let him play,’ Donovan said. “At the end of the day that’s what these games are for.”
Dennis Schröder continued his superb play in Russell Westbrook’s absence, scoring 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting to go along with six assists and seven rebounds.
“He’s been great,” Donovan said of Schröder. “He was a starter for a few years in Atlanta, he’s adjusted he’s played well. It’s great to have him apart of our team.”
Thunder rookie Hamidou Diallo stole the show. The second-route pick out of Kentucky showcased athleticism as well as the ability to play under control. He dropped 13 points, shooting 50 percent from the floor to go along with five boards.
After a promising first half, Donovan went with Diallo to start the third quarter where he played all but three minutes in the period.
“Just playing aggressive,” Diallo said when asked about what worked in that third quarter. “Ball movement, and we were getting up and down the floor with pace.”
Diallo has registered more minutes in each game than any other Thunder newcomer in three preseason games.
“He’s playing the right way,” Donovan said. “For him, it all comes down to defense. Doesn’t need to worry about scoring. He’s been doing a good job of scouting and absorbing the information that we’ve been able to provide him. He makes his mistakes here and there but he recognizes them and is able to correct them.”
Former Oklahoma Sooner Trae Young made his return to the state.
Tulsa welcomes Trae Young pic.twitter.com/K9S9jdUcpX
— Brady Trantham (@BradyDoesSports) October 7, 2018
Young continued to show flashes of brilliant play with some great passing and also a few areas in which he will have to improve. Still, the fans in Tulsa enjoyed seeing a local kid play so early in his career.
“He and I had a talk yesterday and I told him every game he plays in will be the first one for him,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said before the game. “He’s going to see different defenses, so I think just taking that information every game and learn how to attack different teams.”
Young finished with 16 points on 5-of-18 shooting including 2-of-5 from three in 26 minutes.
Asked Trae Young what he was looking forward to with regular season approaching and moving forward with the Hawks. pic.twitter.com/Z5dMWeoZvm
— Madysson Hope Morris (@MadyssonMorris) October 7, 2018
The Thunder return to Oklahoma City where they will practice tomorrow and prepare for their final preseason game Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks at Chesapeake Energy Arena.