Thunder reserves close out regular season with 115-100 victory

By Michael Kinney

The Oklahoma City Thunder closed out their regular season Sunday afternoon with a 115-110 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. Both teams had already clinched spots in the postseason so neither played their starters or key reserves.

Despite that, Thunder coach Mark Daigneault liked what he saw from the players who normally see action on the franchise’s G-League squad.

“I was impressed – 30 assists,” Daigneault said. “Offensively they moved the ball and made all the right plays and allowed the defense to dictate what we got. I thought we got great shots as a result. Obviously, a lot of minutes to sustain a high level on the other end of the floor, but I thought that guys did a great job.” 

Tre Mann played a career-high 47 minutes and set career-highs with 12 rebounds and 12 assists to go with 24 points for his first career triple-double.

“We stepped up when they called us to just give our guys a rest going into the postseason,” Mann said. “So, you know, we went out there, played hard and had fun playing together.”

 Jared Butler also set a career-high by scoring 25 points in 46 minutes of work at the Paycom Center.

“This game was a testament to the hard work and the commitment that we put in,” said Butler. “I think we’re all committed to the same things that we buy into and I think this game was just a testament to it.”

Before the game started, a few of the Thunder regulars took time to sign more than their usual share of autographs. With it being a possibility that it was their final game at the Paycom this season, they were able to show the fans a little more attention during pre-game.

One of those was second year guard Josh Giddey who made his way down the entire baseline of fans signing jerseys, pictures and basketballs.

Oklahoma City ends the regular season with a 40-42 record. That was good enough to clinch the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference.

The Thunder will face the New Orleans Pelicans Wednesday in the 10/9 play-in game. The contest will take place on the road in New Orleans. It will be OKC’s first postseason game since 2020.

Unlike the normal playoff series, the play-in format consists of one game between the No. 10 and No. 9 seed, with the loser going home and the winner advancing to the second round of the play-in games.

The other first-round play-in game features the No. 7 seed Los Angeles Lakers and the No. 8 seed Minnesota Timberwolves. The winner moves on to the normal playoff bracket where they will matchup up with No. 2 seed Memphis.

If Oklahoma City gets past New Orleans, they will face the loser the Lakers and Timberwolves on Friday. Once again, they will need to win one game to advance into the Western Conference playoff bracket and take on No. 1 seed Denver.

If everything goes Oklahoma City’s way, they will be back home next week hosting Game 3 of their first-round series. But that would mean winning at least two straight games on the road first.

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Photos: OKC Thunder

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