OKC Thunder sets team scoring record in rout of Houston Rockets
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander wasn’t going to let the Thunder mess around against the Rockets. Not this time.
Gilgeous-Alexander, in his first game since being named an All-Star, was on a mission to destroy the Rockets from the opening tip. And destroy the Rockets he did in a 153-121 Thunder win Saturday night at Paycom Center.
SGA received his loudest “MVP” chants of the season when he stepped to the free throw line late in the third quarter. The adulation was earned.
Gilgeous-Alexander, in just three quarters, scored 42 points on 14-of-23 shooting. He was 14 of 15 from the free throw line.
“He has a killer instinct going into every game,” teammate Isaiah Joe said. “I’m pretty sure y’all can see that.”
“He was a man on fire to start the game,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault added.
More:After making first NBA All-Star team, Thunder's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander still 'same Shai'
The only thing keeping SGA from besting his career-high (44 points) was the lopsided scoreboard.
The Thunder led by as many as 45 points — its largest lead in any game this season.
“We built it with a pretty bloodthirsty mentality,” Daigneault said.
SGA scored 20 points in the first quarter on 7-of-10 shooting. He started 5 of 5 from the floor in his first five minutes.
It was SGA’s highest-scoring first quarter of his career, and his 28 points at halftime was also a career high.
“I’m just running up and down,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “A lot of times I don’t even know what I’m at.”
He tied Kevin Durant (2014) for the most points scored by a Thunder player through three quarters.
It was a huge bounceback effort for SGA, who shot 30% in the Thunder’s loss at Houston on Wednesday.
“I didn’t like how I played in Houston on both ends of the floor,” SGA said. “I wanted to get that bad taste out of my mouth.”
More:OKC Thunder trade primer: Seven questions leading up to NBA trade deadline
Thunder sets scoring record
On Jan. 3, the Thunder scored a team-record 150 points against the Celtics (without SGA, strangely enough).
That record lasted a month and a day.
The Thunder set a new team scoring record with 153 points against the Rockets.
Credit Darius Bazley for the record-breaking shot — a banked 30-footer.
The Thunder scored at least 30 points in every quarter, including 41 points in the second quarter and 44 points in the third quarter.
Fun fact: The Thunder’s highest-scoring game (153) and lowest-scoring game (65) in team history both came against the Rockets.
Sixty-five is not a typo, by the way.
The Rockets beat the Thunder 69-65 on Nov. 16, 2014 — the Plagues of Egypt season.
The Thunder started Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, Lance Thomas, Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams that night.
More:Tramel: OKC's David Holt knows mayoral bragging can go too far as Travis Kelce's 'jabroni' lesson shows
Thunder gets revenge vs. Rockets
The Thunder lost Wednesday night in Houston, falling to 1-5 against the Rockets in the last two seasons.
OKC and Houston are on parallel rebuilding timelines, and while the Thunder is on a far more inspiring track, the Rockets could at least tout their head-to-head success against the Thunder.
On a smaller scale, the Thunder was just looking for revenge from Wednesday.
“We owed them one,” Joe said.
“Coach (Daigneault) usually shows quite a few clips before the game … but he didn’t show any today,” Thunder center Mike Muscala added. “He just said, ‘We’ll see how you guys respond.’”
The Thunder certainly responded.
“In 82 games you’re gonna be off-track sometimes, but getting the car back on the road is critical,” Daigneault said. “We’ve had a habit of doing that.”
More:Tramel's ScissorTales: Russell Westbrook passes Gary Payton on NBA all-time assist list
Jaylin Williams’ joy
Jaylin Williams plays with joy.
Just watch his reactions. The former Arkansas center smiles and yells “boom,” after making a 3-pointer (2-of-2). He smiles even bigger after taking a charge, which he did twice against Rockets big man Alperen Sengun — drawing Sengun’s third and fourth fouls.
“You want players and you want to make plays that give your team energy, because energy is required to be a good team, but it’s hard to come by,” Daigneault said.
“He’s an energy person first and foremost. He’s got a very contagious personality. He does bring a joy to the gym every day, forget about the game."
More:How Thunder is among NBA pace leaders thanks in part to Mark Daigneault's 'Minnesota' play
● Thunder guard Lu Dort (right hamstring strain) missed his fourth straight game. Daigneault didn’t commit to Dort playing on the upcoming road trip.
● Rockets guard Eric Gordon, who had a team-high 25 points in Houston’s win over OKC on Wednesday, was out with right knee soreness.
● The Rockets were playing on the second night of a back-to-back, while OKC was off for two days between the two Houston games.
● The Thunder shot 58% from the field. OKC is 13-2 when it shoots north of 50%.
● The Thunder is 9-1 when Aaron Wiggins starts.
● Rockets teammates Trevor Hudgins and Boban Marjanovic checked into the game together midway through the fourth quarter. Hudgins is 6-foot. Marjanovic is 7-foot-3. Marjanovic, a gentle giant, is universally beloved.
● Rookie guard Jalen Williams poked his head in during Gilgeous-Alexander’s postgame interview. “That’s an All-Star starter right there, just so you know,” Williams said, before SGA shooed him out of the room.
● Gilgeous-Alexander, named an All-Star reserve, was asked if starting an All-Star game was a goal of his. “I wouldn’t say that’s on my list,” SGA said. “I have goals like, I want to be on an All-NBA team, I wanna make the All-Defensive team, 50/40/90 (shooting splits), obviously championships and things like that. MVPs. But I don’t try to prioritize them. I have goals and that’s what I’m ultimately working toward, but I try to take it day by day.”
● Thunder rookie Ousmane Dieng will head back to the G League OKC Blue soon, Daigneault said.
● Thunder center Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who’s been sidelined since mid-December with a right ankle sprain, played in the Blue game Saturday. Robinson-Earl will not be with the Thunder in its upcoming road trip, at least initially, Daigneault said.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OKC Thunder sets team scoring record in rout of Houston Rockets