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New Orleans tops OKC 105-102 in Tulsa

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New Orleans Pelicans forward Al-Farouq Aminu (0) reaches for the ball in front of Oklahoma City Thunder guard Derek Fisher in the third quarter of an NBA basketball preseason game in Tulsa, Okla., Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013. New Orleans won 105-102. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) — AP

The Thunder and Pelicans both came into this contest unbeaten in the Preseason. In the end it was New Orleans who improved to 5-0 in the Preseason while the Thunder dropped to 3-1.

Look, it’s the Preseason, so it’s important to keep in mind that what happens may or may not hold any weight to it. While the loss against the Pelicans was a disappointment, the story of the night for the Thunder was bright spot, Steven Adams.

The rookie big man out of New Zealand was very efficient on the offensive end for OKC. Adams shot 71 percent from the field and ended up with a double-double, with 10 points and 15 rebounds. Adams did foul out of the contest again, but this time it was after 34 minutes of activity-filled basketball. He was very active down low for the Thunder and is looking like a solid pick for the Thunder.

Kevin Durant overcame a slow start shooting the ball, and finished the game with 25 points on 8-of-20 shooting. Durant made 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and led the team in scoring; Durant did not play at all in the fourth quarter. The Thunder are expected to sit their All-Star forward at least one game during the Preseason.

In the end, it was poor late-game execution that caused the Thunder to lose the game. Brian Roberts (who?) scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half, and dropped a beautiful floater late in the game to put the Pelicans on top. In the last minute of the game, the Thunder looked absolutely lost and had no offense to set themselves up for a game tying shot.

It’s situations like tonight that are good for a player like Reggie Jackson who needs the experience. Let’s just be happy that these learning moments can come in the preseason instead of later in the year.

The Thunder’s next Preseason tilt will be Sunday evening at 6:00 pm, when the Utah Jazz visit Chesapeake Energy Arena.

What to Watch for:

Big Men

The big story of the bigs tonight was Steven Adams. The Big Kiwi finished the game with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting. The surprising stat was Adams achieving a double-double by grabbing 15 boards (nine defensive, six offensive) in 34 minutes of play. If Adams can continue that type of production and (almost) stay out of foul trouble, it’s going to be difficult to keep him off the court during the regular season. Thabeet added two points and three rebounds in 14 minutes of play after getting the start.

3-Point Shooting

The three-ball was back for the Thunder tonight. OKC converted on 12 of their 23 shots from beyond the arc. The Thunder’s 52.1 percent 3-point shooting was a definite improvement on their 22.4 percent 3-point shooting they had coming into tonight’s game. Kevin Durant finished the night 3-of-6  in 3-point shooting, while Jeremy Lamb was 2-of-5. Ryan Gomes showed his worth tonight by connecting on all three of his attempts from beyond the arc.

Reggie Jackson

This was just a “ho-hum” game from Jackson. The Thunder’s starting point guard started the game looking very confident and comfortable, something that is very encouraging heading into a Russ-less November. The 12 points and nine assists were encouraging, but the 4-of-12 shooting is something I’d like to see improve. The end of the game saw Reggie Jackson look a bit lost. Forced shots and poor execution in the closing minute showed us that there is still some growing left to do for Reggie.


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