Thunder Vs. Nuggets: Five Takeaways From OKCs Win Against Denver In Third Preseason Game

A steal and 3-pointer from Aaron Wiggins. A clutch offensive rebound from Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. Nifty finishing from Tre Mann and a little bit of everything from Josh Giddey. 

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Four Thunder rookies, plus second-year forward Gabriel Deck, shared the floor to close out a 108-99 preseason win against the Nuggets on Wednesday night at Paycom Center. 

Denver coach Michael Malone pulled his starters with about two minutes left, but before that, the young Thunder lineup was facing a strong Nuggets five that included reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. 

Oklahoma City 's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) goes past Denver's PJ Dozier (35) during a preseason NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets at the Paycom Center in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. © BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN Oklahoma City 's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) goes past Denver's PJ Dozier (35) during a preseason NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Denver Nuggets at the Paycom Center in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.

Giddey had 14 points, six rebounds and three assists. Mann had 12 points and three rebounds. 

Here are four more takeaways from the game: 

Center of attention

Three preseason games. Three starting centers for the Thunder. 

While four starters are seemingly set — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort, Josh Giddey and Darius Bazley — OKC’s starting center spot has been a revolving door. 

Isaiah Roby got the first start. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl got the second. And on Wednesday, veteran Derrick Favors got the starting nod. 

It was the first time this preseason that Favors (knee swelling) was available to play. 

Favors had his floater and mid-range game working. He finished with 10 points and five rebounds. 

Bazley gets going

Darius Bazley scored 13 points in the first quarter, shooting 4-of-4 with a pair of 3-pointers. 

Bazley was matched up against Denver’s Michael Porter Jr., but Bazley held his own. 

The third-year forward had 16 points and eight rebounds. 

Dort stays hot

Remember Dort’s hot 3-point shooting at the start of last season? The same thing is happening this preseason. 

Dort is 10-of-16 from 3-point range through three preseason games. He was 3-of-4 from three against the Nuggets. 

Diakite sidelined

Mamadi Diakite’s injury in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Bucks was worse than the Thunder anticipated. 

Diakite will be out indefinitely with a left hip fracture, the team announced Wednesday before tip-off against the Nuggets. 

There’s no such thing as good timing for an injury, but Diakite’s injury comes at an especially bad time. 

The 24-year-old forward was fighting for a roster spot. Oklahoma City claimed him off waivers from Milwaukee before training camp. 

“That’s a tough break,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “We obviously liked him enough to claim him. Sam (Presti) made that very clear. And (Diakite) did a good job. We’re really intrigued by him.” 

The Thunder has 16 players, including Diakite, signed to a standard contract. Teams can only carry 15 such players in the regular season. 

Diakite and Gabriel Deck are fighting to keep their spots, and training camp invitee D.J. Wilson is making a go at a roster spot. 

Daigneault was asked how Diakite’s injury affects his future with team. 

“Availability matters, but there’s a lot of other factors that go into those decisions, and most of them are strategy decisions that have to do with future planning, contracts, stuff like that,” Daigneault said. “That’ll all still get weighed, and we still have time to make those decisions. That’s what Sam’s working on right now. 

“I would say it doesn’t really change very much in terms of how we’re looking at him.” 

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Thunder vs. Nuggets: Five takeaways from OKC's win against Denver in third preseason game

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nba/thunder-vs-nuggets-five-takeaways-from-okcs-win-against-denver-in-third-preseason-game/ar-AAPuy5d

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