Player grades: Small Thunder fail to stop Magic inside the paint in 126-115 loss

Playing on the second night of a home-and-road back-to-back, the Oklahoma City Thunder were not able to steal a road game against a well-rested Orlando Magic, 126-115.

With the Thunder getting smaller with every injury, the gigantic Magic was able to take advantage of their significant size advantage. The Magic out-rebounded the Thunder, 49-36. The Magic also outscored the Thunder inside the paint, 48-30.

The Thunder were not able to overcome their size difference with hot outside shooting as the Magic were equally on fire from three. The Thunder shot 15-of-37 (40.5%) from three and the Magic shot 13-of-33 (39.4%) from three.

The Thunder made a run in the third quarter as they outscored the Magic, 35-23, and cut their lead to as little as seven points. The Magic were able to punch back and squish any hope of a comeback attempt with a 31-27 advantage in the fourth quarter.

For the Thunder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander headlined the game as he scored 33 points a day after battling sickness.

For the Magic, Paolo Banchero continues to improve his ROTY odds with 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Wendell Carter Jr. continues to own the Thunder with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

A day after turning in their most impressive performance of the season, it’s only normal that the Thunder lay an egg in Orlando with this performance. While it won’t publicly be said, you have to wonder how much travel fatigue factored into this lackadaisical performance.

Let’s take a look at Thunder player grades.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: A+

Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was a late scratch in Tuesday’s game against the Boston Celtics.

After going through a pre-game shootaround session, Gilgeous-Alexander did not feel well enough to play and sat the night out with a non-COVID illness.

Usually, most people take a couple of days to get over a sickness. Gilgeous-Alexander needed one day before returning to NBA action and scoring 33 points in 35 minutes.

Gilgeous-Alexander shot just 8-of-18 from the field, but a 17-of-18 night from the free-throw line kept him busy and helped him add to his point total.

Gilgeous-Alexander did most of his damage in the second half, as he scored 20 points on 5-of-11 shooting and 10-of-11 from the free-throw line.

The 24-year-old continues to be great for the Thunder — It is pretty funny though that the Thunder had arguably their best offensive performance in franchise history without him though.

Josh Giddey: B-

Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Outside of Gilgeous-Alexander, the rest of the Thunder roster had relatively quiet nights.

His backcourt partner Josh Giddey finished with 16 points on 7-of-17 shooting and 2-of-7 from three to go along with five rebounds and four assists.

While it was a quiet game for Giddey, he did have the highlight of the game with a full-court pass that saw him zip the ball to Kenrich Williams’ catching radius.

Who said passing can’t be fun?

Isaiah Joe: A-

Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Joe continues to be one of the bigger surprises on the Thunder this season as he finished with 13 points on 3-of-6 outside shooting and 4-of-5 free-throw shooting.

Joe was part of a fun small-ball lineup that featured Gilgeous-Alexander, Joe, Tre Mann, Lindy Waters III and Mike Muscala.

From the 4:48 mark of the third quarter to the 9:42 mark of the fourth quarter, the Thunder outscored the Magic 22-15 during the eight-minute span this small lineup was on the floor.

With the Thunder missing Jaylin Williams for most of the second half due to a left ankle sprain, head coach Mark Daigneault needed to get creative with his lineups as he was essentially without a true forward or center.

Kenrich Williams: B-

Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Kenrich Williams had a weird game that reflected his box score.

Williams finished with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting and nine rebounds. But on the flip side, Williams only played in 20 minutes due to five fouls and the Thunder were outscored by 14 points when he was on the floor — tied for the second-worst plus-minus on the team with Lu Dort.

If the Thunder miss Jaylin Williams for additional time, Kenrich Williams might get the starting nod until he returns.


Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire