'I kinda took that personally': Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leads Thunder to largest win of season vs. Nets

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The Thunder overmatched the preseason title favorites Thursday night, and it wasn’t one bit surprising.

The Nets had the only superstar on the floor, James Harden, but the Thunder had a determined star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. And SGA had the better supporting cast. It wasn’t particularly close.

The Thunder ran the Brooklyn B Team out of Barclays Center, 130-109. OKC set its season high in scoring, assists (32) and 3-pointers (20). It also snapped a five-game losing streak.

As for streaks, the Thunder has won its last four games at Brooklyn, and its last seven games in the state of New York.

The Nets are the transformers of the NBA. Wednesday night they battered the Bulls on the road. Brooklyn, again looking like a title favorite, had all three of its stars: Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

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Oklahoma City's Darius Bazley (7) dunks in the second quarter on Thursday night against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.
Oklahoma City's Darius Bazley (7) dunks in the second quarter on Thursday night against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.

Durant rested against the Thunder, the unvaccinated Irving is banned from home games, and Brooklyn was also without Joe Harris, Patty Mills and LaMarcus Aldridge.

On top of that, the Nets have had a crazy schedule this week. They had a cross-country back-to-back on Sunday and Monday from Brooklyn to Portland. Then another back-to-back on Wednesday and Thursday against the Bulls and Thunder.

To their credit, the Nets cut the Thunder’s lead to eight points with eight minutes left, but the Thunder responded with a barrage of clutch 3-pointers from Ty Jerome, then Josh Giddey, then Luguentz Dort, then Gilgeous-Alexander.

In a 2 ½-minute span, OKC’s lead swelled back to 18 points.

The 21-point win was the Thunder’s largest of the season.

Here are four more takeaways:

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Jan 13, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA;  Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) smiles after scoring in the fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.
Jan 13, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) smiles after scoring in the fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort end things early

Gilgeous-Alexander and Dort combined for 26 of OKC’s first 32 points.

Gilgeous-Alexander repeatedly attacked the undermanned Nets, while Dort did most of his damage from behind the arc (6-of-10).

“Coach had mentioned a few days ago that we start games the worst in the league I think,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “And I kinda took that personally. Being a leader, I wanted to get out to a good start the past couple games since he said that.”

Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 33 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His 21 first-half points marked a career high.

He was as slippery as ever, seeping into every crack the Nets opened. Brooklyn even deployed a box-and-one defense against him.

“A defense you don’t see every night,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “They threw the rhythm of the game off. Credit them for pulling a lever to put themselves back in the game.”

Gilgeous-Alexander said he saw it as a “compliment.”

Dort had 27 points, while also doing a nice job defending Harden.

Harden led the Nets with 26 points, but it came on 7-of-22 shooting.

“I think what makes Dort uniquely qualified to cover (Harden) and try to keep him at bay is Lu’s strength,” Daigneault said before the game. “He’s got the quickness to stay in front, and he’s got the tenacity and the mindset to want to do it for 48 minutes.”

Harden gutted things out for 36 minutes. He just didn’t have enough help.

Alongside him, Brooklyn started Bruce Brown, DeAndre’ Bembry and rookies Kessler Edwards and Day’Ron Sharpe. Not exactly the Nets you know.

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Oklahoma City Thunder forward Luguentz Dort (5) takes a 3-three point shot on Thursday night against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Luguentz Dort (5) takes a 3-three point shot on Thursday night against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.

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Thunder for three?

The Thunder, the worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA (30.7%), shot 20-of-45 (44%) from behind the arc.

OKC set a season high in 3-point makes, and a season high in 3-point percentage.

Mike Muscala was 4-of-4 from 3-point range. He had 14 points in 12 minutes off the bench.

Darius Bazley, 2-of-5 from deep, led the bench with 16 points.

Dort’s six 3-pointers were a season high.

Giddey attempted 11 3-pointers.

“(The Nets) were willing to live with that tonight,” Daigneault said, “and to our guys’ credit, we made them.”

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Brooklyn Nets forward and former OU star Blake Griffin (2) pulls down a rebound between Oklahoma City's Mike Muscala (33) and Darius Bazley on Thursday night at Barclays Center.
Brooklyn Nets forward and former OU star Blake Griffin (2) pulls down a rebound between Oklahoma City's Mike Muscala (33) and Darius Bazley on Thursday night at Barclays Center.

Josh Giddey back at Barclays

Giddey had a nice flashback when the Thunder bus pulled into Barclays Center.

“The last time I was in this place, it was one of the best nights of my life,” Giddey said before the game.

It was July 29 of last year, when the Thunder selected Giddey with the No. 6 pick in the NBA Draft. The draft was held at Barclays Center, home of the Nets.

“Coming in, I really didn’t know what to expect,” Giddey said. “Going sixth was a big surprise for me."

Giddey said everything that happened that night was a blur.

“If I could live any moment again,” Giddey said, “it’d be that one.”

Giddey banked another nice memory at Barclays Center on Thursday night. He tied his season high with 19 points, while dishing seven assists against two turnovers.

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Mamadi Diakite debuts

Mamadi Diakite played 10 minutes off the bench in his Thunder debut.

Diakite, a 24-year-old forward who’s on a 10-day contract, scored two points on 1-of-3 shooting.

Diakite played in 14 games for the Bucks last season, and he joined the Thunder before the season as a training camp invitee.

Diakite fractured his hip in a preseason game, and was eventually waived.

“He’s a little rusty,” Daigneault said. “He hasn’t been in practice with us or in the games, so he’s a little behind on what we’ve been doing since camp, but I was impressed with him. I thought he was ready to play.”

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Thunder vs Nets: Lu Dort, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC win at Brooklyn

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