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By halftime against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, Hamidou Diallo hadn’t just broken his previous record for assists in a game. He had doubled it.
Diallo, the de facto starting point guard with all the Oklahoma City Thunder’s usual options injured or in COVID-19 protocol, had eight assists in the first half of the game Friday and finished with 10. His previous career-high was four.
“The fact that you can put the ball in his hands that much over the course of a game, that’s not something I think that he would’ve handled as well in past seasons,” Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said.
“It’s certainly growth. I thought he did a good job of moving it tonight, he got off it early, he helped the offense function.”
Diallo wasn’t the only Thunder athlete who stepped into a playmaker role in the 106-103 loss on Friday, but he was a tone setter with the ball in his hands. His play helped OKC survive the absences of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Theo Maledon and George Hill and nearly get the win.
“Hami’s got a contagious attitude about him,” said big Isaiah Roby. “When he gets out on the court, he’s fun to play with. He’s going to make the right play.”
In Diallo’s first point/assist double-double, he scored 16 points on 6-for-13 shooting and had a steal to go with the 10 assists.
He has now scored double-digit points in eight games in a row. During that span, he is averaging 13.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
“This year in general, he’s been getting an opportunity to, I feel like, handle the ball more, make plays, do different things,” said center Al Horford.
“It’s great for his confidence, it’s great for him understanding how he needs to play and how he impacts the game. He can not only attack, but he can create for others. We saw that side of him tonight.”