OKC Thunder: Five takeaways from loss to Miami Heat
The Thunder suffered its second blowout of the season, losing to the Heat 118-90 Monday night in Miami.
Here are five takeaways from the game:
The Heat was bound to get hot from 3-point range after a slow start to the season. Miami, which ranked second in the NBA in 3-point accuracy (37.9%) a season ago, entered Monday night shooting just 33.7% from behind the arc.
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Consider the slump busted.
The Heat built a 14-point halftime lead thanks to 11-of-19 (58%) 3-point shooting. Duncan Robinson was 4-of-7 from deep in the first half.
Miami finished 16-of-34 (47%) from 3-point range, led by Kelly Olynyk’s 5-of-7 mark. OKC shot 13-of-48 (27%) from behind the arc.
The Thunder tied its season high in 3-point attempts.
Bazley sparks offense
Darius Bazley sized up Heat center Bam Adebayo with a jab step. Adebayo, who was sagging off Bazley, didn’t flinch. So Bazley took the open 3-pointer.
After scoring eight points in the first half, Bazley scored eight points in a one-minute surge in the third quarter. Bazley knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers and then got to the line for two free throws.
Miami’s 14-point halftime lead was cut to four points after Bazley’s scoring spree.
Bazley finished the game with 16 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.
“He’s played with a nice pace and aggressiveness the last two nights,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said.
Bazley was the Thunder’s second leading scorer behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who scored 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting.
Bazley and the Thunder cut the Heat’s lead to 67-63 with 7:44 left in the third quarter.
Then came the onslaught.
Miami went on a 20-0 run, and the Heat outscored the Thunder 24-3 to end the third quarter.
“Miscommunication and not bringing that energy defensively,” Gilgeous-Alexander said of Miami’s run. “And against a team like this, they’ll make you pay for it every time and they did tonight.”
Daigneault tinkers with rotation
Daigneault has committed to spreading out minutes as he gets a feel for his roster.
It makes perfect sense for the young, new-look Thunder, but it doesn’t make it easy to predict Daigneault’s rotations.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces that we’re still learning, whether they’re rookies or whether they’re guys from other teams,” Daigneault said before the game. “And so we’ve tried to do that a little bit in a way that doesn’t disrupt the rhythm or chemistry of the team. A lot of those things are planned ahead of time. They’re not impulsive decisions. They’re just decisions based on how do we progress the team, how do we progress individual guys, how do we make sure that multiple people are getting opportunities?
“You’ll see that throughout this first stretch of the season and probably throughout the entire season. That’s just something we believe in, and we’re willing to accept the tradeoffs that come with that.”
Justin Jackson had only appeared in one game prior to Monday, but he received first-quarter minutes against the Heat. Isaiah Roby also played in the first quarter after sitting out the Thunder’s win Saturday night in Orlando.
Jackson, Roby and Mike Muscala were the first men off the bench. Some of the Thunder's rotations were altered as a result of Aleksej Pokusevski’s (concussion) absence.
“Obviously I’m appreciative of whatever minutes I can get,” Jackson said, “and so it was good to kind of get back out there tonight.”
Jackson scored six points with seven rebounds in 19 minutes.
Two-way players Josh Hall and Moses Brown received playing time in the fourth quarter, as did veteran wing Darius Miller.
It was Miller’s first NBA action since March 2019. He missed all of last season after undergoing surgery on his right Achilles tendon.
Miller shot 1-of-3 from 3-point range in seven minutes.
“I give him a lot of credit,” Daigneault said. “It’s hard. Injuries are hard, especially when you’re a hooper. He’s done an unbelievable job since he’s been here.
“There’s a lot of long nights when you don’t get to play, you wonder when you’re gonna be ready again. When those guys get to go back on the court it’s a pretty good moment, so we’re happy for him.”
Bam Adebayo was a lob-catching machine Monday night. He had everything else working as well.
The Heat center, who finished second in Most Improved Player voting last season, scored 20 points with eight rebounds and four assists on 9-of-10 shooting.
Thunder center Al Horford, who matched up against Adebayo, was limited to two points and five rebounds in 21 minutes.