Thunder vs. Hawks: Five takeaways, including a fashion faux pas, from OKC's win over Atlanta
The Thunder wore orange, the Hawks wore red and the lack of contrast on the court Friday night became a problem that had to be solved.
So Oklahoma City, the home team, ditched the orange and changed into its white uniforms at halftime of a game it led 63-55.
Call it a lack of communication.
"The Hawks are wearing the incorrect uniform color for the game," a Thunder spokesman told The Oklahoman at halftime. "The league process of inputting uniform colors should have caught the orange/red combo, but because the Hawks only have red uniforms on the trip the Thunder will switch to white at the half."
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Gone are the days when the home team always sported white and the road team wore its color. The home team now gets to choose its jersey for every game, and the road team picks a set that doesn’t match the home team.
Those selections are made public weeks in advance on the NBA’s LockerVision website. The situation Friday can be described as a glitch in the system.
Thunder forward Kenrich Williams was asked where it ranked among the strangest situations of his NBA career.
“It’s corona and then changing uniforms for sure,” he said.
Williams could tell right away that the colors were too close.
“You see somebody and it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s not my teammate,’” Williams said.
But it didn’t seem to bother Thunder coach Mark Daigneault.
"I certainly didn't notice it or even think about it to be honest with you,” Daigneault said. “It was a league mandate that we just reacted to. They made me aware of it at halftime. When I went into the locker room the guys were in white uniforms."
Thankfully, eyes were spared in the second half.
“I think it made it a little bit easier just for like our peripheral and stuff like that in the second half,” Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said.
Here are four other takeaways from the Thunder’s 118-109 win against the Hawks:
The Hawks clamped down in the fourth quarter, but that wasn’t enough for Atlanta to overcome its lifeless defense of the first three quarters when OKC scored 31, 32 and 33 points.
The Thunder shot 52% from the field and 38% from 3-point range.
Six Thunder players reached double-digit scoring: Gilgeous-Alexander (24), Luguentz Dort (19), Darius Bazley (18), Kenrich Williams (15), Theo Maledon (13) and Mike Muscala (10).
Neither team protected the rim well. Atlanta outscored OKC 62-60 in the paint.
John Collins led the Hawks with 25 points. Center Clint Capela had a monster game with 17 points and 21 rebounds.
The two youngest players active for the Thunder on Friday night both recorded double-doubles.
Bazley was an efficient 8-of-12 for 18 points and 12 rebounds. Bazley had a highlight double-clutch dunk over Collins in the fourth quarter.
“Honestly it was just instinct for Baze,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “He’s such a, I call him a freak of nature, but he’s a freak athlete. He can do so many things in the air and get so high with the gifts he’s given. He just made a regular basketball play for Baze, which is kinda crazy.”
Maledon had 13 points and a career-high 12 assists. He tied Russell Westbrook’s Thunder rookie record for assists.
You can always count on Al Horford resting on the second night of a back-to-back. Well, at least until Friday.
The Thunder’s veteran center switched things up. He sat out on the front end of the Thunder’s back-to-back instead. OKC will host Denver on Saturday night, and Horford will be available for the matchup against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets.
"We do it purely based on what's physically best for him,” Daigneault said before the game. “He's very much a stakeholder in that process. To be honest with you, I'm not in the room even on those conversations.”
Jerome’s Thunder debut
Ty Jerome played a significant role in his Thunder debut.
Recalled from the G League bubble on Thursday, Jerome played 22 minutes off the bench and compiled quite the line: nine points, seven assists, five rebounds.
Daigneault said the decision to call up Jerome was directly related to Hamidou Diallo’s injury. Diallo (right groin soreness) has already been ruled out for Saturday.