NEWARK, DE – The Delaware 87ers (6-6) came into this game after recently completing an intense stretch of three road games in four days, and came out on top 104-95 against the Oklahoma City Blue (8-5), led by Philadelphia 76ers assignee Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot’s 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.
In the first quarter, the Sevens played some of their best basketball of the year and jumped out to a 30-16 lead. Delaware ended the period on a 14-0 run that snapped the frame’s final 3:30 minutes. The 16 points is the second-lowest output against the Sevens in the first quarter this year.
“I thought we moved the basketball. We made shots. I think our team is progressing and getting better the more we share the ball,” Head Coach Eugene Burroughs said. “I think Cat Barber was kind of a catalyst for us. He’s been moving the ball very well the last three or four games, and when he does that it gets other guys involved and guys can make shots and it breeds that sharing of the basketball.”
Barber, normally a potent scorer, finished with a clean line of seven points, seven rebounds, six assists and zero turnovers. The second quarter was all OKC. The Blue outpaced the Sevens 37-18 and went into the locker room up 53-48.
“Honestly, I think our game is a game of runs,” Burroughs said. “Someone’s going to come out early and make some shots and the other team is going to go on a run. It’s ‘can you withstand run?’”
The Sevens withstood the Blue’s barrage and did an effective job of playing post defense despite being undersized. OKC rotated 7-footers Dakari Johnson, the reigning D-League Player of the Month, and Kaleb Tarczewski to try and cause fits for the 87ers’ big men Shawn Long and David Laury III.
Long was mired in foul trouble throughout the game, but Laury III played well in his stead. The Iona product finished with 15 points and seven rebounds and neutralized the Blue’s frontcourt attack throughout his 25 minutes on the floor.
“It’s hard, because with those big guys, they got some easy buckets down there that we couldn’t defend,” Burroughs said. “You just try to do your work early in the post and try to push them off the block and just do the best you can defensively.
“I think, for us, when they do miss those shots, that’s when we’re at our best because we can rebound and push the floor and try to get some easier buckets, and I think that happened towards the fourth quarter a little bit. We got a couple stops and were able to move the ball down the other end.”
The Sevens out-rebounded a bigger OKC squad 44-36. They also won the third quarter 26-14 and kept the Blue at bay throughout the fourth quarter, thanks to some timely defense, solid passing and clutch shots. Much of the strong play can be attributed to Luwawu-Cabarrot, one of the 76ers first-round picks this year.
“I think confidence-wise, it helps him because now, again, he’s playing in NBA games and to come down here and play against the talent level here, which is good talent, but it’s different,” Burroughs said. “The style of play is different, the game is different. When you watch him play, he’s in pick-and-rolls with us and I’m quite sure with the Sixers he’s not in a lot of pick-and-rolls.
“He’s still developing and growing and that’s what our league is for and that’s what our team is for is to help him be in situations where he can improve and get better.”
TLC was one of six players in double figures for the Sevens. They are back at .500 and have a 3-2 home record.
Delaware heads back on the road for a date with the Canton Charge on Friday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. ET.
By Varun Raghupathi, 24/Sevens Insider