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Rapid reaction: Thunder hold off the Sixers 103-99 in Manchester

by Anthony Slater Modified: October 8, 2013 at 6:25 pm •  Published: October 8, 2013

The Thunder beat the Philadelphia 76ers 103-99 in Manchester, England on Tuesday afternoon. Here’s some rapid reaction:

It was over when…

…the Thunder staved off a late Sixers run by hitting free throws. Reggie Jackson went 4-of-4 from the line in the final minute, capping off an impressive 29-point game for the third-year guard (more on that below) and OKC completed a perfect 2-0 overseas trip.

Star of the game – Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant’s regular-season career-high in assists is 11. In only 33 minutes on Tuesday, Durant had 12, consistently finding the open man off double-teams, pick-and-roll traps and in the fastbreak. It’s only the preseason, but he looked about as fluid as we’ve seen him as a playmaker and facilitator, inviting defensive attention before threading the needle on pocket passes and crosscourt skips. It’s an important development for the Thunder, particularly early in the season when they’ll be without their All-Star point guard. And oh yeah, he can still score, too, dropping an easy 21 points on Tuesday.

Also, this:

Growing up

Under control throughout, Reggie Jackson was extremely impressive for the second straight game. He seemed to have a constant sense of the team’s pulse, knowing when to attack, when to slow it up and when to get it to his stars. Jackson’s hyper-efficient stat-line (10-of-17 shooting, 29 points, eight assists, six rebounds, one turnover) only speaks to what we saw from him. The natural ability has always been there, the basketball intelligence continues to grow.

Trending up – Steven Adams

Here are the rookie center’s combined numbers trough two preseason games: 32 minutes, 13 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, eight fouls. Not earth-shattering, but it’s certainly indicative of Adams’ constant activity when he’s in the game. And at this point, that’s all the Thunder can ask from the 20-year-old. He’s showed energy and awareness, catching and finishing on dump-offs (something Kendrick Perkins struggles with), while throwing his body around enough to be a defensive nuisance. If those trends continue, Adams could find himself with an early spot in the rotation, able to develop his game in the NBA rather than Tulsa, where most people had him pegged.

Trending down – Hasheem Thabeet/Daniel Orton

Adams’ potential emergence means trouble for one or both of the the Thunder’s other two back-up centers, with neither on a guaranteed contract. The Thunder may decide to keep Thabeet and Orton, but Adams will get every chance to snatch and maintain those coveted minutes, as OKC is clearly invested in his development long-term. On Tuesday, Thabeet didn’t play and Orton went 1-of-4 shooting and fouled out in 19 minutes.

Struggling from deep

The Thunder is a combined 8-of-41 (19 percent) from three in the first two preseason games. Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson went a combined 1-of-14 on Tuesday. Oof.

Vine of the game

Jeremy Lamb has four blocks in his first two preseason games. Kevin Martin had eight blocks all of last year. Just an example of the athleticism Lamb infuses into this rotation. And yeah, I don’t seem to remember K-Mart spiking too many shots like this:

Video of the game

Kevin Durant into your living room with this tomahawk slam:

Up next

The Thunder returns to Oklahoma City on Wednesday and has nearly a week of practice time before next Tuesday’s preseason home opener against the Denver Nuggets. Tip is at 7 p.m.

by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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