3 takeaways: Gabriel Deck outscores most OKC starters in 4th quarter alone

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The Oklahoma City Thunder trailed by as many as 29 points to the Utah Jazz before losing 109-93 on Friday.

The Thunder, Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons all lost, making this a night with no change on the Tankathon leaderboard. Oklahoma City and the Magic are tied for the third-best odds in the NBA draft lottery, while the Pistons are one game ahead of them for the second-best odds.

Though it was a defeat, OKC head coach Mark Daigneault spoke about how it was good for the Thunder to go up against Jazz center Rudy Gobert, the likely Defensive Player of the Year.

Wing Svi Mykhailiuk, who led the Thunder with 19 points, talked about how he used a Steve Nash method to create some space and open looks against Gobert and the drop defense that the Jazz play.

Mykhailiuk, guard Theo Maleddon and forward Gabriel Deck all played well, but the Thunder didn’t have enough juice to truly get going against the intense Utah defense.

They shot 42.9% from the field, 31.6% from 3 and, entering the fourth quarter, had only attempted six free throws in the entire contest.

Here are three takeaways from the game, including the return of center Al Horford to the Thunder bench.

Starter's struggles

The Maledon played well against the Jazz, scoring 18 points on 7-for-16 shooting. None of the other Thunder starters reached the double-digit mark. Aleksej Pokusevski and Isaiah Roby had six points apiece. Moses Brown scored five. Darius Bazley had just two despite attempting 13 shots. Oklahoma City was absolutely overmatched by the stout Utah defense. Brown had three fouls by halftime and then committed two more in the first 2:20 of the third quarter, limiting him to just 20 minutes of play. No Jazz starter broke the 30-minute mark, and Mike Conley had 10 points in 16 minutes during his return to the court after not playing since April 26.

Gabriel Deck's 4th quarter

Remember those scoring numbers of the Thunder starters? Forward Gabriel Deck outscored all of them except Maledon in the fourth quarter alone. Deck scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and even made a 3-pointer for just the second time during his Thunder tenure. He had 18 points total, one shy of Mykhailiuk's team-high for the night. Deck went 6-for-9 from the field, attempted five of OKC's 16 total free throws, and made the only 3 he attempted. He also grabbed six rebounds, had an assist and only committed two turnovers in 26 minutes of play. The Argentinian continues to impress since coming over from Real Madrid. https://twitter.com/okcthunder/status/1393388791012995072 That's not a normal move for players with less than 10 NBA games under their belt.

Horford on the bench

Thunder center Al Horford returned to the bench. He wasn't active, but he hadn't been around the team much recently. "It's great to have him back. The guys were really excited to see him. We spent much of the month on the road, and in the COVID era, it doesn't really make sense to travel him," Daigneault said. "It's really good to have him. He really connects to the group. I think he has a really high appreciation for the guys and where they are in their careers and the way they approach the game." With just two games left, both at home, it made sense to call Horford back to end the season with his teammates. It's unclear what his future holds, but his time in Oklahoma City has been positive for the team and the young players. "He's always extremely supportive and positive with them, and that really helps our group," Daigneault said. "It gives us energy when he's around."

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