Dennis Schroder stabilizing second unit
D.C. — Paul George was struggling, but the Thunder’s offense wasn’t. That was a rarity in recent seasons with one star on the floor for the Thunder.
What a difference Dennis Schröder has made in eight games, and what a difference Schröder made in the Thunder’s two-game road sweep of Charlotte and Washington.
On the east coast swing, Schröder averaged 18.5 points on 50 percent from the field while shooting 4-of-9 from 3-point range. In the Thunder’s 134-111 win Friday, Schröder was at his efficient best.
With the score tied 30-30, neither team playing was playing much defense. That was until Schröder and Patrick Patterson trapped John Wall and Schröder came up with a steal.
George likes to play entire first quarters. Last season, it often left him as the lone scoring option surrounded by four bench players when Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams and Carmelo Anthony subbed out.
George didn’t have to carry that weight at the end of the first Friday. He drove and passed out to Schröder, who hit one of his two 3-pointers en route to 16 points. Schröder was instrumental in the Thunder shutting out the Wizards the final 2:42 of the first quarter, which was the precursor to the dominant 44-20 second period.
“We’ve just got a good rhythm now,” George said. “Most of last year I was still trying to figure it out with the starting group, figure it out with the second unit.”
It helps rhythm playing with a talent like Schröder.
Grant move paying off
Since Thunder coach Billy Donovan moved Jerami Grant to the starting lineup, the Thunder has been 9.5 points per 100 possessions better than the opposition. Only Golden State (16.7), Milwaukee (15.2) and Sacramento (11.2) have been better over their last five games.
In that span, Grant is averaging 13.6 points and five rebounds and shooting 40 percent (6-of-15) from 3-point range.
“Those are good threes for him, he's been getting the wing and the corner,” Donovan said after Grant’s 22 points and two 3-pointers against the Wizards. “Then he did good things around the basket and then obviously his versatility defensively. You can do so many different things with him.”
Ferguson not worried about noise
Throughout his earlyseason struggles, Terrance Ferguson has remained resolute.
He repaid Donovan’s trust in keeping him in the starting lineup with nine points on three 3-pointers against the Wizards.
“He definitely believes in me and my teammates do as well,” said Ferguson, who said he hasn’t followed the social-media clamor for Alex Abrines as the starter.
Donovan said he hasn't started Abrines in order to keep his scoring impact with the second unit.
“I know they’ve got my back no matter what. No matter what I’m going through, they’re always in my ear putting confidence in my head. It feels good to be in that position.”
Blue win opener
The Oklahoma City Blue opened the G League season with a 124-89 win Friday against the Stockton (Calif.) Kings. Bryce Alford led the way with 23 points. Thunder two-way players Deonte Burton (18 points) and Tyler Davis (15 points, 10 rebounds) also played.
Thunder guard Dennis Schroder (17) makes a layup during a 134-111 win over the Wizards on Friday.