After trailing the Charlotte Hornets by as many as 11 points, a 10-0 Oklahoma City run in the second quarter helped OKC go into the half in a one-possession game.
The Thunder trailed the Hornets 59-57 at halftime in Oklahoma City’s opening game of the season.
Guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the team with 12 points and center Mike Muscala had nine off the bench. Lu Dort turned away from the 3-point line, instead choosing to drive into the lane frequently with the ball. It paid off, as he had 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting with four free throws.
LaMelo Ball led the Hornets with 13 points. He made five shots in nine minutes of play.
The full Oklahoma City Thunder starting unit returned to the game with about four minutes to go in the second quarter and went on a 10-0 run to re-take the lead. In the end, the Hornets led at the half, but that starting lineup put OKC back into it after the bench unit started to struggle. Gilgeous-Alexander had 12 points and George Hill had 11 on perfect shooting. Darius Bazley had eight points and four rebounds while Dort scored 10. Al Horford was scoreless but had five rebounds in 14 minutes of play.
In the second quarter, we saw what could conceivably become a trend: The Thunder bench struggled. That came with a specific exception — Mike Muscala. The backup center’s nine points led the Thunder until the closing minutes of the half when all the starters came back in and went on the scoring run. He was also the only bench player to have a positive plus-minus. Muscala finished the first half with nine points on 3-for-5 shooting and a steal. He had three fouls, however. There is not much center depth, so he will need to limit those in the second.
Theo Maledon was by no means perfect in the first half of his NBA debut, but the first assist of his career was impressive. As often as he looked like a 19-year-old rookie, he looked like a player who has professional overseas experience. His assist did not look like someone who was drafted in the second round, and he drove and dished a cross-court pass that led to a basket. https://twitter.com/okcthunder/status/1342993487302541317 https://twitter.com/ThunderFilmRoom/status/1342999068080021505 Tune to Fox Sports Oklahoma for the second half of the game. [vertical-gallery id=440150]