'Hami was amazing': Diallo impressed his Thunder teammates with energy off the bench
Thunder rookie Luguentz Dort didn't hesitate when asked what sparked the Thunder's lock-down defense in the third quarter.
"When Hami (Hamidou Diallo) went in the game," Dort said after the Thunder's 112-108 victory Thursday against the Kings, "he just started playing really hard."
Hamidou Diallo’s playing time had been inconsistent since Terrance Ferguson returned on Feb. 5, from an eight-game absence for personal reasons. Dort kept his spot in the starting lineup, and Ferguson joined the second unit.
But on Thursday, Diallo entered the game with 7:34 left in the third quarter, taking Ferguson’s place in the rotation. The Kings went scoreless for over five and a half minutes while he was on the floor.
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"Hami was amazing," Thunder veteran Chris Paul said. "... His energy doesn't show up on the stat sheet."
Diallo played didn't score in 11 minutes of play, but he contributed three rebounds.
He and Sacramento's Kent Bazemore were issued offsetting technical fouls with 4:14 left in the third quarter. After Diallo blocked Bazemore's shot under the basket and the nearest official called jump ball, Bazemore threw Diallo's arm off of him. Diallo knocked the ball out of Bazemore's hands. The official intervened.
"I'm just trying to play basketball," Diallo said. "We're not going to take no crap as a team. You try to pick on one of my guys, I'm going to step in front of him. Just trying to play the game, and I guess that's what sparked us as a team, and that's what we needed. So, whatever it takes to get a win."
Diallo last played meaningful minutes on Sunday against San Antonio, when Ferguson left the game with low back stiffness.