Grizzlies' 29-point win shows OKC Thunder 'a totally different team without' Dennis Schröder
As Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s shots fell short and Chris Paul’s minutes piled up, Billy Donovan surely would’ve turned to Dennis Schröder for a spark.
The Thunder split its first two bubble games without Schröder, but his absence was magnified Friday afternoon in the Thunder’s 121-92 loss to the Grizzlies.
Six-minute stretches without a field goal aren’t likely to happen with the Sixth Man of the Year candidate on the floor, but that’s the drought the Thunder faced in the second quarter against Memphis.
After scoring 37 points in the first quarter — one shy of a season high — the Thunder scored 23, 18 and 14 points in the following three quarters. Friday marked OKC’s lowest-scoring fourth quarter of the season.
Schröder is away from the team with his family, as he and his wife recently welcomed a baby daughter into the world.
With Schröder out, Gilgeous-Alexander has struggled. The second-year guard, and the Thunder’s leading scorer, has shot 12-of-37 (32.4%) in the three games Schröder has missed. Not even a new haircut Friday could bust the slump.
“You have to look at the fact that he’s in a totally different role than he was,” Donovan said after the game.
Gilgeous-Alexander has taken on more point guard duties instead of always sharing the court with either Schröder or Chris Paul.
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“I know he can handle it, but it’s probably been a little bit different for him,” Donovan said. “I don’t think that necessarily has anything to do with his play, because he’s just a basketball player. I think the biggest thing for him is you’re gonna have nights where you don’t shoot the ball particularly well. He didn’t shoot it well. I’ve always said this about him, he’s a guy that can impact the game a lot of different ways on both ends of the floor.”
Gilgeous-Alexander shot 3-of-13 from the floor and 1-of-8 from 3-point range against the Grizzlies. He had three assists and three turnovers.
“It’s not him, it’s all of us,” Paul said. “We’re a totally different team without Dennis. We rely on him a lot as another ball handler. There haven’t been many times this season we sort of played without having a couple ball handlers on the court.”
Paul was right in that it wasn’t just Gilgeous-Alexander who was off. The Thunder shot just 35% from the field. After draining 7-of-13 3-pointers in the first quarter, the Thunder shot 6-of-30 from deep the rest of the game.
Oklahoma City led Memphis by as many as 18 points before losing by 29.
“If we got a lead, if it’s 10, 15, we gotta be one of those teams to try to take it to 20, 25,” Paul said. “I think we’re just going to keep building. We know that every team is out here fighting. This isn’t 30 teams here where teams are already eliminated. All of these teams here are going to continue to fight and try to win.”
Memphis was 0-4 in the bubble before the blowout win against the Thunder, which dropped to 2-2 in the restart and 1-2 without Schröder.
“It is what it is,” Paul said. “We’re gonna fight, we’re gonna keep getting through these games. We won’t really know what we look like until we get our full crew here.”