Bazley’s career-high points, defense vs. Westbrook was ‘big-time’ in loss

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Logan Newman
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

It was a 119-107 loss for the Oklahoma City Thunder, but head coach Mark Daigneault could not say enough about the performance of second-year forward Darius Bazley.

“He was awesome,” the coach said. “He was big-time.”

Bazley scored a career-high 26 points and got to the free throw line 13 times, where he made 11 of his attempts.

He did so while guarding Russell Westbrook on the other end of the floor. Bazley played 38 minutes, which Daigneault said he did to match the forward’s minutes to Westbrook.

All this the night after he played 33 minutes in what was the fifth game over the last seven days.

“We get in 3:00 in the morning last night, and Baze played a lot of minutes last night, and tonight he goes minute-for-minute with Westbrook,” Daigneault said. “He played probably the last 15 minutes straight of the game — I didn’t think his energy dipped at all. He was big-time tonight.”

Bazley has been playing very well since coming back from rehabbing the fractured scapula (shoulder blade) in his shooting arm. Over his six games, he is averaging 18.3 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 44% from the field. His 3-pointers haven’t been falling, but he’s been doing well from inside.

“Good things happen when you get feet in the paint,” he said. “You’re able to create for yourself or your teammates.”

If this wasn’t the best performance of Bazley’s career, it was one of them. Not only did he lead the team on offense, but he played about as good of defense against Westbrook as the team could have expected.

Westbrook had a triple-double with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 17 assists, but he shot just 5-for-18 from the field and had eight turnovers.

“There were a couple times where he got deep under the basket and scored on me, but other than that, just trying to get him to take contested jump shots, whether it’s from the midrange or from the 3, and just kind of limit him in transition,” Bazley said.

The 20-year-old said he was surprised but excited to get matched up against Westbrook.

“I don’t think I did too bad,” Bazley said, “but we still lost, so I kind of feel like obviously I could have done something else, something more.”

The Wizards struggled to pull away from the Thunder throughout the night. After Washington posted 38 points in the first quarter, OKC countered with 33 in the second. Late in the third, the Wizards built their lead back as high as 13, but the Thunder opened the fourth on a 11-4 run to cut the deficit to two.

In the end, Bradley Beal’s 30 total points and five fourth-quarter assists from Westbrook did the Thunder in. It was Oklahoma City’s 11th loss in a row, but for the third straight game, the team was competitive.

After Lu Dort was the leading cause for the last two games, Bazley took the reigns on Monday. Kenrich Williams, who scored 15 points, said that Bazley being forced into this type of role will be good for his growth.

“With him being able to guard multiple positions like that and go down and carry some of the load on offense, I think that’s going to be big for his development,” Williams said. “It’s going to be a big stepping stone for him.”

Related

Lu Dort talks about facing fellow Montrealers Chris Boucher, Khem Birch

After Raptors, Spurs fined for resting players, some on Twitter wonder: Why not OKC?