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OKC Thunder: Five takeaways from Trail Blazers scrimmage

The Thunder was sharp Tuesday night in its final tune-up.

Oklahoma City beat Portland 131-120 in its third scrimmage from Disney World. Now it’s time to wait until 2:30 p.m. Saturday when the Thunder resumes the regular season against the Jazz.

But first, five takeaways from Tuesday night’s scrimmage:

Point man

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander almost always shared the court with fellow point guards Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder this season, but the Thunder’s final scrimmage offered a look at the future — Gilgeous-Alexander as the Thunder’s primary point guard.

Paul rested Tuesday night, and Schroder stayed in his usual sixth man role. Gilgeous-Alexander ran the offense on his own for 11 of his 17 first-half minutes.

Gilgeous-Alexander shot 3-of-4 from the field with two 3-pointers. Most notably, he dished seven assists. Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 3.3 assists per game.

Sharp shooting

Two days after shooting 29% from behind the arc, the Thunder scorched the Trail Blazers from deep. OKC shot 20-of-41 (49%) from 3-point range.

Defense was more of a recommendation than a requirement Tuesday night, but it was an impressive shooting performance nonetheless.

Luguentz Dort drained 3-of-5 3-pointers, and shot 6-of-13 from deep over the three scrimmages.

Abdel Nader and Darius Bazley also connected on three 3-pointers.

Eleven of the Thunder’s 13 available players recorded a long-range make.

Bazley’s evolution

Bazley improved with each scrimmage.

Bazley scored a team-high 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting, and it’s clear the Thunder rookie is starting to expand his skill set.

Bazley scored eight points in the first quarter. He Euro-stepped around 7-foot Portland center Hassan Whiteside for a layup, and drained two 3-pointers from the top of the arc.

It’s still not clear what type of player Bazley will become. His defense has a long way to go, but the 20-year-old forward has a high offensive ceiling.

Roberson starts

Andre Roberson earned the start with Paul out. Roberson only played second-half minutes in the Thunder’s first two scrimmages, but Billy Donovan said he wanted to give Roberson a chance to defend Portland star guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

Roberson didn’t get that opportunity as Lillard and McCollum sat out, but Donovan’s decision spoke to Roberson’s progress after missing the last 30 months.

Roberson primarily defended Carmelo Anthony, who shot 4-of-11. Roberson wasn’t heavily involved in the offense, but he showed a nice burst in getting to the rim for two layups. He also made a 3-pointer.

Roberson’s workload increased with each scrimmage — from 12 minutes, to 15, to 18 Tuesday against the Trail Blazers.

Now comes the big question: Will Roberson play Saturday? If so, it’ll be his first official appearance since Jan. 27, 2018.

Noel misses test

Nerlens Noel missed the Thunder's scrimmage after forgetting to take his daily COVID-19 test, Donovan said before tip-off.

Players who fail to get tested must quarantine for one day before rejoining their team.

"Nerlens is extremely remorseful," Donovan said. "There's times I've been in my room and been like, 'Oh my God, I forgot to test.' And I've gotta run down there and test. These days kind of run together so to speak and you're kind of doing the same thing every day. You've got your practices, you go into the meal room and sometimes it can slip your mind. If your test is not necessarily right around practice, it could be a little later in the day, you could forget."

Noel isn't the first player to forget. Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzingis and Nuggets forward Paul Millsap both missed scrimmages for the same reason.

"We've gotta all be responsible and make sure we're getting that done," Donovan said.

Mike Muscala replaced Noel as the Thunder’s backup center. Muscala recorded 10 points and six rebounds.

Guard Terrance Ferguson was also out Tuesday night after suffering a leg contusion.

"We don't think it's anything significant but certainly wanted to give him ample time to rest," Donovan said.

Nader returned to the court after passing concussion protocol.

Related Photos
<strong>Luguentz Dort and the Thunder will face the Jazz at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in OKC's first NBA seeding game. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Luguentz Dort and the Thunder will face the Jazz at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in OKC's first NBA seeding game. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d335dbf16d51d043a152c221ae2869ab.jpg" alt="Photo - Luguentz Dort and the Thunder will face the Jazz at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in OKC's first NBA seeding game. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] " title=" Luguentz Dort and the Thunder will face the Jazz at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in OKC's first NBA seeding game. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Luguentz Dort and the Thunder will face the Jazz at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in OKC's first NBA seeding game. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Joe Mussatto

Joe Mussatto joined The Oklahoman in August 2018 to cover OU football, men’s basketball and softball. He previously covered University of Kentucky football and basketball for SEC Country. Mussatto is from Oklahoma City and lives in Norman. Read more ›

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