NBA rising star Josh Giddey’s superb start to 2023 continued, matching a career high in points as the Thunder saw off the Brooklyn Nets to end their east coast road trip.
The 20-year-old had 28 points, nine rebounds and nine assists as Oklahoma City came from behind to win, 112-102.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 28 points of his own and Lu Dort 22, while Australian Patty Mills knocked down a pair of three-pointers off the bench. Ben Simmons missed the game with a back issue.
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“First half was ugly for us, we were lucky to be down two – we didn’t play our style of basketball, they got on top of us early,” Giddey said on court after the win.
“Second half, guys responded well … we managed the clock well, we executed at both ends of the floor and got good looks.
“It was a great team win against a really good team.”
Most of Giddey’s scoring came in crunch time, scoring 10 in the fourth quarter.
The game was within a solitary point after a three-pointer from Mills, but two back-to-back bombs in response, the latter from Isaiah Joe, pushed the margin to seven with just over six minutes left.
It would never get closer than that.
“Big time players make big time plays,” Giddey said.
“Zay stays ready. He comes in off the bench, he knows his role and he does it to perfection.”
The win lifts the Thunder to 21-23, in a tie for the play-in tournament for the post-season.
“That was a team effort – we had five guys locked in at all times,” Giddey said.
They’ve now won five of their last six, the one defeat by a single point Miami.
After a week away from home against four strong Eastern Conference opponents, the Thunder will get a few days off before hosting the Pacers later in the week.
“We’ve grown a lot from the start of the year,” he said.
“We’ve made improvements, but there’s so much room for growth, still.”
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