Thunder: Two-way player Lu Dort off to strong start with the Blue
Thunder two-way contract player Luguentz Dort came flying in out of nowhere and swatted the ball out of bounds as it left the unsuspecting Westchester Knicks guard’s hands late in the OKC Blue’s 130-114 win Saturday.
“The talent defensively is there,” Blue coach Grant Gibbs said, “and there’s a mentality that’s hard to get out of people that I think he naturally has. But there’s a lot of fine tuning to get him to a higher level.”
The Blue’s home opener Saturday wasn’t anywhere near Dort’s best performance of the young season. He played just 21 minutes due to foul trouble. He scored 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting. But even on an off night, the 20-year-old’s defensive capabilities shone.
With five minutes left in the second quarter, Westchester point guard Lamar Peters accelerated to the basket. But Dort, side-stepping, stayed even with him, falling just a fraction of a step behind as they neared the rim. As Peters rose up for a floater, Dort leaped higher, poised for a block. But that wasn’t necessary. Peters’ shot fell short.
“He passed me, and I just didn’t want to give up on the play, so I just went up there and tried to block it,” Dort said. “He got lucky though cause I could have got on the board.”
After already entering the league with a strong defensive foundation, Dort said he wants to show that he’s a capable shooter. Three games into the season, he has already proven that he can score in bunches. In the Blues season opener, he led the team with 35 points and shot 4-of-9 from 3-point range.
“He’s done a good job of just trusting the process,” Gibbs said. “Like, these are the things I want to work on, let’s evaluate them after every game, let’s work on them, let’s watch the film, and then the next game is an opportunity to test that out again.”
OKC signed Dort as an undrafted free agent over the summer. Through three games with the Blue he’s averaging 23 points and 5.3 rebounds.
The Blue starting lineup Saturday was full of Thunder players. Dort and his fellow two-way player Devon Hall both started. The Thunder also assigned center Justin Patton and wing Deonte Burton to the Blue Saturday.
All four scored double figures, but one player who joined the Thunder in summer league and another who was invited to training camp lit up the scoreboard against Westchester. Kevin Hervey (23 points) and DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell (21) led the Blue in scoring.
On their off day, Thunder guards Dennis Schroder, Terrance Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo showed their support for their G League counterparts. The three sat court-side, along with Schroder's wife and young son.