Player grades: SGA, Josh Giddey lead Thunder to 112-102 win over KD-less Nets

The Oklahoma City Thunder are officially in the Play-In tournament race.

Following an impressive 37-22 fourth-quarter advantage that capped off the Thunder’s third consecutive win and wrapped up a four-game road trip with a 3-1 record, the Thunder now have the same record as the 10th-seeded Phoenix Suns at 21-23.

Which means with 38 games left in their season, the Thunder are in the playoff race.

The Thunder were able to leave New York with a 112-102 win over the red-hot Brooklyn Nets, who were 18-3 in their previous 21 games heading into Sunday.

The Thunder played a close back-and-forth contest against the Nets, who were missing Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons. Durant continues to miss time with an MCL sprain and Simmons was a late scratch due to back soreness.

By the end of the game, there were 16 lead changes and seven ties with neither team having a lead larger than 12 points.

Entering the fourth quarter, the non-SGA lineups continue to hold their own.

With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander sitting the first six minutes of a five-point game, Josh Giddey led a 24-12 run during that span. Giddey finished with 11 points and three assists in his 10 fourth-quarter minutes.

On the night, Giddey scored a new career-high 28 points. Gilgeous-Alexander also finished with 28 points himself. An impressive combined 56 points for the OKC’s young backcourt.

The Thunder shot 44-of-90 (44.4%) from the field and went 12-of-31 (38.7%) from 3. The trio of Gilgeous-Alexander, Giddey and Lu Dort combined to score 78 of OKC’s 112 points.

For the Nets, they shot an inefficient 39-of-91 (42.9%) from the field and went a cold 12-of-41 (29.3%) from 3.

Seth Curry led the Nets in scoring with 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting off the bench. Nic Claxton collected 17 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double. Kyrie Irving was held to 15 points on 7-of-20 shooting and 1-of-7 from 3.

The Thunder left Oklahoma City for an extensive road trip with many looking at the reverse standings and lottery odds; they return to Oklahoma City a little over a week later with the focus shifted to where they stand in the actual NBA standings.

Let’s take a look at Thunder player grades.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: A

Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander lived at the free-throw line tonight.

In 36 minutes, Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 28 points on 8-of-17 shooting and 1-of-4 from 3. From the free-throw line, Gilgeous-Alexander shot 11-of-14. He also added seven rebounds.

Gilgeous-Alexander partnered with Giddey in the fourth quarter to close this win out. Both combined to score 18 of the Thunder’s 37 fourth-quarter points with Gilgeous-Alexander scoring seven points in his six minutes.

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Josh Giddey: A-plus

Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Playing an old-school style of basketball, Josh Giddey was able to shoulder his way into an uncontested layup against Nic Claxton, who just moments ago got in a kerfuffle with each other over a rebound.

Following the score, Giddey decided to showboat a little bit and motion for the ‘too small’ gesture by lowering the palm of his hand above the floor.

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This play exemplified the night Giddey had in Barclays as he turned in arguably his best game of the season.

In 37 minutes, Giddey scored a career-high 28 points on 12-of-21 shooting along with nine assists and nine rebounds. Giddey also went 3-of-4 from the free-throw line and was a game-high plus-14.

With most of his teammates struggling to score, Giddey stepped up in the fourth quarter and led the Thunder to a win with 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting and three assists.

Giddey did a lot of his damage inside the paint, scoring 22 points on 11-of-16 shooting in that area.

The Thunder talk a lot about growth this season and Giddey is the face of it as he collects his third consecutive 20-plus point game and his eighth 20-plus point game in his last 12 games.

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Lu Dort: A

Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Lu Dort was the other 20-point scorer for the Thunder as he finished with 22 points on 6-of-10 shooting and went 5-of-7 from 3. From the free-throw line, Dort shot 5-of-6.

Dort had a nice part of opening and closing quarters as he scored six points in each of the first and fourth quarter on 4-of-4 shooting from 3.

Having to deal with Dort and Darius Bazley, Kyrie Irving was essentially a non-factor in this game.

Irving finished with 15 points on 7-of-20 shooting and went 1-of-7 from 3. With it being a close contest in the fourth quarter, Irving was invisible with two points.

Dort is a streaky shooter and can develop tunnel vision on his drives, but games like these show the value he possesses.

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HIGHLIGHTS

Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire