Hamidou Diallo is best known as the winner of the 2019 Slam Dunk Contest, but he has become the Thunder’s most productive bench player in his third NBA season, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Diallo is the leading scorer among Oklahoma City’s reserves at 10.5 PPG, including a 23-point outburst in Friday’s win at New York.
“He’s had a lot of ups and downs, he’s had injuries, he’s had a lot of nights where he’s probably staring at the ceiling, and it’s just a reminder that development’s not linear,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “He’s somebody that’s weathered storms. To his credit he’s been professional and he’s just stayed consistent. He has a night like tonight because of the cumulative effect of all those experiences and the way that he’s handled them.”
Going to Madison Square Garden is a homecoming for Diallo, who hails from Queens, but he said it’s a different experience with no fans in the stands and no ability to see the city because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“Now we’re quarantined,” he said, “and we just pretty much stay in the hotel and stay out the way.”
There’s more from the Northwest Division:
- Jazz forward Joe Ingles missed Friday’s game in Milwaukee because of right Achilles soreness, ending a streak that began in December of 2015, according to a story on the team’s website. Ingles had played in 384 straight regular-season games and 418 total, counting the playoffs. “It makes you pause for a second and reflect on what a streak of consecutive games like that means and what it says about Joe, his toughness, his commitment and the type of teammate he is,” coach Quin Snyder said.
- Foul trouble allowed Timberwolves power forward Jarred Vanderbilt to play extended minutes Tuesday, and he responded with 11 points, five rebounds, two blocks and three steals, notes Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. Vanderbilt has been waiting for a chance since Minnesota acquired him at last year’s trade deadline. “I feel like you’re always going to get an opportunity. No matter how it comes … so my mindset was to just stay ready, stay locked in and continue to stay positive,” he said. “Especially in this league, once you go down that path of being negative, it’s hard to turn it around and get back on the right track.”
- Karl-Anthony Towns returned to the Timberwolves‘ lineup Saturday night for the first time since dislocating his left wrist two weeks ago, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Towns tested the wrist in warm-ups before a final decision was made (Twitter link).