OKC Thunder player grades: Thunder upset the Nuggets, 108-94

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  • Denver Nuggets
    Denver Nuggets
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  • Oklahoma City Thunder
    Oklahoma City Thunder
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  • Josh Giddey
    Josh Giddey
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  • Darius Bazley
    Darius Bazley
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Suddenly riding a three-game winning streak, the Oklahoma City Thunder were able to defeat the short-handed Denver Nuggets, 108-94, in a rare blowout win for the team.

The Thunder were able to balloon their lead in the third quarter by winning the period by 14 points. The 88-66 lead heading into the fourth quarter essentially labeled the final 12 minutes as garbage time. Sure, the Nuggets made a run in the fourth quarter as its all-bench lineup cut it to single digits, but the game never really felt like it was under threat.

The 30th-ranked offensive-rated team was able to get anything they wanted on offense as drives to the rim went seamlessly. The best thing about this win is the fact that it was led by the young guys in Shai Gilgeous-Alexnader, Josh Giddey and Darius Bazley.

Things felt like the roles for both teams were in reverse as the well-rested Nuggets looked sluggish on both ends of the floor while the Thunder, who are in the middle of four games in six nights stretch, played very energetically.

This was just a very nice start of the Thunder’s back-to-back in a game that saw the offense humming along with no real high pressure minutes in the final quarter. Let’s take a look at player grades:

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: A+

With the short-handed Nuggets playing a zone heavy defense all game due to not having any real size advantage outside of Nikola Jokic, Gilgeous-Alexander made it a point of emphasis to attack the basket all game long and showed why he is one of the best drivers in the entire league as he finished with a 27 point, 12 assist and 11 rebound triple double — his second of his career.

Gilgeous-Alexander showed tonight the type of scoring games he can turn in if the lane aren’t clogged and he is given space to work with in the paint. The fourth-year-guard was able to dash the Nuggets’ interior defense and create good looks around the rim.

The scoring wasn’t there in the second half as it was in the first half, but overall, Gilgeous-Alexander was great tonight.

Darius Bazley: A

Bazley deserves a ton of credit with how he has handled his benching. Three games in and nothing but positive signs and improved play from the third-year-forward. In this game, Bazley finished with a 17 point and 11 rebound double double on an efficient 7-of-11 shooting. He also added two blocks as he is slowly transforming into a block specialist. It’s still super early in the process, but things could have easily gone south with Bazley if he took the benching decision the wrong way. For all the criticism he has received this season, he definitely deserves some praise for his performance as the backup wing.

Josh Giddey: B+

Giddey had a nice performance as he finished with 14 points, five rebounds and five assists. Nothing was too crazy but Giddey has quickly accustomed fans that this type of performance is usually his baseline. Which is a very positive sign for the rookie’s future if performances like these are what the Thunder can expect from him on a nightly basis.

Lu Dort: B+

Dort had another all around nice showing as he finished with 15 points and six rebounds on 5-of-13 shooting which included going 4-of-10 from three. Dort also extended his streak of at least one made three a game to 43 games. Dort becoming a high volume, efficient outside shooter has been one of the most surprising developments of the season and he continues to show that this is not just an anomaly and the outside shooting appears to be legit.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl: B

The rookie forward finished with 14 points and nine rebounds in his second straight start at the four position. Robinson-Earl had struggled recently, scoring just six points on 35.3 field goal percentage in his last three games, so this was a nice bounce back performance for the rookie against a depleted Nuggets squad.

Derrick Favors: B

This was a very nice game for the 30-year-old veteran as he finished with 10 points and six rebounds. Favors did not let Jokic absolutely embarrass him like he should have on paper as the reigning MVP had a quiet 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists performance in 25 minutes tonight. Of course, it helps out when Nuggets head coach Michael Malone did not play him the entire fourth quarter.

Favors has now started in two straight games at the center position so it will be interesting to see if he gets another start after his presumed rest game against the Phoenix Suns on Thursday. Especially considering the fact Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault has preached the entire season that the five spot was the most fluid of all the starting positions.

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