Player grades: Thunder fail to reach .500 with 128-111 loss to Raptors

As has been the theme of the season, the Oklahoma City Thunder failed to capitalize on another chance to reach .500 with a 128-111 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

The Thunder rode a three-game winning streak and a 6-1 record in their last seven games to Thursday’s chance to break even with their record. Playing in the home country of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort, the Thunder struggled to gain control of the game.

Despite the lopsided final score in a game that saw the Raptors lead by as many as 20 points, don’t let it allude you to think it was a blowout contest.

It was a tight back-and-forth game as neither team led by more than 11 points in the first three quarters with 11 lead changes and five ties. The Raptors used a 34-25 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter to run away with this game.

Being forced to play at a high pace, the Thunder struggled to limit their turnovers and struggled defending in transition — OKC turned the ball over 13 times, a high number compared to the low 18 team assists. In the fastbreak, the Raptors enjoyed a significant 23-6 scoring advantage too.

“Toronto was on brand tonight,” Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said. “I thought they were the aggressor. A lot of the fastbreaks in the first half was off of our turnovers… They were the aggressor on both ends of the floor, which is kinda their brand of basketball. It’s how they win.”

The Raptors also ate off of second chance points, outscoring the Thunder 21-12 in that department. On the boards, the Raptors dominated with a massive 58-39 advantage and a 18-11 advantage on offensive rebounds.

It was a well-balanced attack by the Raptors as six players scored at least 16 points. All-Star Pascal Siakam headlined the win as he finished with 25 points on 9-of-19 shooting, 14 rebounds and eight assists.

Other contributors include Gary Trent Jr., who scored 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting off the bench. Jakob Poeltl recorded a 16-point and 12-rebound double-double. Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes each scored 19 points and O.G. Anunoby had 17 points.

Overall, the Raptors’ starting lineup combined to score 96 of their 123 points.

For the Thunder, it was the Gilgeous-Alexander show as he finished with an efficient 29 points. The Toronto native put on a show in his homecoming against the Raptors in the loss.

Let’s take a look at Thunder player grades.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: A+

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In his fourth NBA game in Toronto, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was remarkable.

Playing in Canada for the first time since December 2021, Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 29 points on an efficient 12-of-19 shooting, three assists and three rebounds. Inside of the paint, Gilgeous-Alexander scored 20 points on 10-of-15 shooting.

Gilgeous-Alexander also continued the newfound Thunder tradition of halftime buzzer beaters.

Gilgeous-Alexander’s night took off in the second quarter, where he scored 13 points on perfect 6-of-6 shooting. On the other hand though, Gilgeous-Alexander struggled in the second half as he scored 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting — a clear sign that the Raptors’ exotic zone defenses was getting to him.

Jalen Williams: B-

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Considering the standard he’s set, this was a prosaic performance for Jalen Williams as he finished with 15 points on 4-of-11 shooting and went 6-of-7 from the free-throw line to go along with seven rebounds and three assists.

Losses like these really spotlights how Williams’ nature of playing within the flow of the offense can be detrimental. Like Daigneault’s talked about before, a selfish Williams could actually be beneficial as he’s the team’s second-best scorer.

When looking through the box score of this game, it’s hard to justify Williams taking the same amount of shots as Josh Giddey and Lu Dort.

Josh Giddey: B-

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Josh Giddey was the Thunder’s third-leading scorer in this game with 13 points — which speaks poorly on how the non-SGA players performed in this loss.

Giddey finished with 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting, seven assists and one assist — although considering how he got his lone dime, maybe it should count for more off of style points.

Tre Mann: B

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Daigneault hinted at the possibility of the Thunder eventually turning to Tre Mann after being a DNP in five of his last six games and that materialized against the Raptors.

In 21 minutes off the bench, Mann finished with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting and went 2-of-3 from 3. Mann scored seven of his points in the second quarter.

A good outing for the second-year player who’s been fizzled out of the rotation in recent weeks.


Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire