In the first half of Thursday evening’s matchup between the Austin Spurs and OKC Blue, Austin showed why they stood as the top seed in the Western Conference. After the first half, the Spurs had a 60-43 lead thanks to the help of a dominating defense and the great offensive performance from rookie forward Jaron Blossomgame who had 18 points and 4 rebounds.
However, that fate changed as we moved into the 2nd half as OKC were slowly able to climb out of a hole that was significant as the Spurs led by 22 with 7:18 left in the 3rd quarter. That change was due to the Blue finally being able to lock down on the defensive end as they held the opposition to just scoring four buckets from the field between that 7:18 mark and the end of the 3rd quarter.
On the other end of the court, it was a complete team effort as two-way prospect Daniel Hamilton controlled the offense as the lead guard while Bryce Alford’s perimeter prowess helped push some easy points on the scoreboard. Their leadership helped trim that 22-point Austin advantage down to a manageable 9-point advantage at the end of the 3rd as the Spurs went into the 4th up 78-69.
Although that 3rd quarter run was impressive, it looked pedestrian compared to how the Blue performed once the 4th quarter started. In that quarter, the Blue just firmly took control of the game as they fully evaporated that Spurs lead. In fact, that run got to the point where they created the type of advantage that seemed insurmountable as they had a 94-87 lead with 1:09 left in regulation.
OKC’s dominance during that 4th quarter was largely due to the great play of Thunder assignee Dakari Johnson, who just went to work on the offensive end. Within that 4th, he put up 8 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist on 4-6 from the field. Each of those scores came from the low-post as he just overpowered potential Defensive Player of the Year Amida Brimah on the left block.
His play in that 4th quarter was just one part of what was a pretty dominating performance for Johnson during that Thursday night game. In 31 minutes, Johnson put up 23 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists on 11-21 from the field and 1-5 from the FT line. Aside from his great work as a scorer, the most impressive part of his all-around performance came on the glass as he snagged a career-high 11 offensive boards.
Although Johnson has only played in 10 games with the Blue due to being part of the Thunder’s main roster, he’s shined in the limited opportunities that he’s had with the team. In 32 minutes, he’s averaged 23.3 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.2 blocks per game on 58% from the field while with the Blue.
While he hasn’t played much for the Blue during the regular season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him suit for the team when the playoffs start next week. That thought comes from how sparingly Johnson has been for the Thunder which should give him more than opportunity to play with the Blue as they fight for a G League title. If he does play, the Blue would definitely have a realistic chance of being the Western Conference representative in this years G League Finals.