Five takeaways from the Thunder's 112-111 loss to the Celtics
The Thunder lost 112-111 to the Celtics in a back-and-forth game Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Thunder (32-21) ended its four-game winning streak, and the Celtics (37-15) extended theirs to seven games. Here are five takeaways from the game:
Gallinari starts hot
In the span of three minutes, Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari scored nine points. He was the catalyst to OKC’s offense in the first quarter, boosting the Thunder from a 4-3 deficit two minutes into the game to a 16-12 lead. OKC scored in six straight possessions, with Gallinari accounting for four.
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That set the tone for an efficient game. Gallinari scored 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting. He also added five rebounds and one assist.
As Enes Kanter high-fived the Celtics starters at the scorers table, a Thunder fan welcomed him back to OKC.
Kanter turned and gave the crowd a thumbs up.
“Remember your roots, Enes,” the fan continued.
Kanter, who played three seasons in OKC, remembered. He announced last month that he was going to open a charter school in the Oklahoma City metro. Sunday marked his first game against the Thunder since that announcement.
Kanter recorded eight rebounds off the bench.
Bazley suffers knee sprain
Darius Bazley euro-stepped to the basket and tied the game at 28 apiece with about a minute left in the first quarter. But after landing, he hopped away, clearly in pain.
Bazley limped through the next two possessions, until play stopped for a foul. He subbed out in the final 21 seconds of the period. Bazley was diagnosed with a right knee sprain and ruled out for the rest of the game.
All week Thunder coach Billy Donovan had stressed the importance of his entire bench staying ready. Sure enough, Hamidou Diallo played 13 minutes Sunday in Bazley’s absence. Diallo was out of the rotation in the two previous games.
Thunder guard Luguentz Dort clapped his hands in frustration with 4:45 left in the second quarter. He had just picked up his third foul. Thunder coach Billy Donovan summoned Terrance Ferguson from the bench.
Dort guarded Boston’s Kemba Walker on Sunday, drawing the start again for his defensive prowess. But when he headed to the bench in early foul trouble, Walker didn’t get a break. Ferguson, also a defensive specialist, had been starting up until he missed eight games in January for personal reasons.
Dort started the third quarter but picked up his fourth foul with 8:52 left in the period. Dennis Schroder replaced him, completing the three-point-guard lineup.
Walker finished the game with 27 points on 6-of-16 shooting. He scored 11 points from the free throw line.
Crunch time push
Donovan called timeout with 1:40 left in the game. The Thunder was trailing 109-101 after going scoreless in three of its past four possessions.
About 30 seconds later, Paul forced a turnover and drew a foul as he crossed half court. He made his free throws to cut the Celtics' lead to seven points. On the next possession, Schroder drained a 3-pointer. 110-106.
Walker helped the Thunder out by missing a clutch free throw, and Paul capitalized. He drove to the rim and cut the Celtics' lead to one possession.
The Thunder's best chance to close the gap came when Schroder blocked a shot by Gordon Hayward, and OKC headed the other way in transition. But Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who finished the game with 24 points, six rebounds and four assists, turned the ball over.
In a last-ditch effort, Paul made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but the Celtics still had the one-point edge.