It might sound crazy, but it worked like magic. The Thunder tipped off the first game of a back to back Sunday against the Wizards. OKC was missing centers Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel who were nursing injuries.
Enter the small ball lineup of Mike Muscala and Darius Bazley to pick up the slack left behind by OKC’s bigs.
The Thunder, who were looking to bounce back from a loss to Memphis, came out hot and didn’t stop. Mike Muscala poured in a pair of threes as OKC jumped out to a 10-0 lead. They never looked back.
Later in the first, Darius Bazley drained a three, one of 18 the Thunder hit on the afternoon.
In the second Bazley hit another three pointer on a feed from Chris Paul. CP3 notched 9 assists on the afternoon. Following that, Danilo Gallinari hit a three. He dropped 20. The Thunder shot 51 percent from the field and 46 percent from distance. OKC was up 16 at the break.
In the third, more of the same, Bazley hit a step back three. One of five he had on the afternoon. Bazley had a career and game high 23 points. At 20 years old, he’s the youngest Thunder player to score 20 off the bench in OKC history.
CP3 did score some. He knocked down a long three late in the shot clock in the third. He didn’t need to score, but still dropped 13.
In the fourth, Hami Diallo delighted Thunder fans with a follow slam, an athletic windmill dunk, a tough hanging reverse and an alley-oop from Paul. Diallo added 13 points.
The Thunder beat the Wizards 121-103. Next up for OKC, a quick turnaround to face Phoenix on Monday. A team who hasn’t lost in the bubble yet.