Player grades: Thunder look lethargic in 112-105 loss to Lakers

Driving to the basket, LeBron James dished it out to his co-star Anthony Davis underneath the dunker spot for the easy jam. The All-Star to All-Star connection sealed this game’s result.

The Oklahoma City Thunder couldn’t overcome a poor offensive outing in a 112-105 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s a bad start to an LA back-to-back for OKC.

“Obviously, we didn’t shoot the ball great,” Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said on the loss. “We didn’t play great. Didn’t generate a great rhythm offensively. Some of that was them, some of that was us. So certainly not our best game but certainly something we can learn from.”

The Thunder and Lakers provided an entertaining and competitive contest. By halftime, it was deadlocked at 50 apiece. Coming out of halftime, OKC built a seven-point lead before it was quickly erased due to a Los Angeles 34-point third frame.

The back-and-forth contest saw 10 ties and 10 lead changes. Neither team led by more than 13 points.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Lakers built an 84-76 lead. The closest the Thunder cut it to was a five-point deficit. Alas, OKC only managed to erase one point from its eight-point deficit entering the final frame when the final buzzer sounded.

It was one of OKC’s worst offensive outings of the season. The Thunder never found a groove as the Lakers did an excellent job making them play uncomfortably. The Thunder shot 42% from the field and went 15-of-49 (30.6%) from 3.

The ball security wasn’t sufficient either for the Thunder, who turned it over 17 times — which led to 27 points for the Lakers. Los Angeles continues to do a superb job at bogging down OKC’s offense.

Los Angeles did a terrific job executing a zone defense that forced low-volume 3-point shooting OKC to take more outside attempts than usual. The 49 attempts were a season-high and a much higher total than its 33-attempt average.

“It’s more about the way we play and whether or not that yields efficient shots,” Daigneault said on the season-high 3-point attempts. “I thought we left something to be desired there tonight on a lot of possessions. If we play the right way and it ends up being a three, we have no problem with that.

“But there were a lot of possessions like I said — it wasn’t about the passing — just our willingness to move the floor and cut and move them around, like we’ve had success against them in the past, I don’t think we did that to a high-enough level tonight.”

The Thunder were led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams. Both scored 25 and 24 points respectively. Outside of those two, only one other player had double-digit points — Lu Dort with 11.

Meanwhile, the Lakers were led by James and Davis. James had 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Davis totaled 27 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. OKC’s lack of size continues to be its biggest weakness and large teams like Los Angeles can exploit that.

Besides those two, Austin Reaves had 15 points and seven assists while D’Angelo Russell had 14 points and six assists.

As mentioned, the Thunder will need to quickly forget about this loss. OKC is set to play the LA Clippers on Tuesday to complete this Los Angeles back-to-back that kicks off a four-game road trip.

“We weren’t as sharp with really anything tonight,” Daigneault said. “We could’ve been better a lot better in every facet.”

Let’s look at Thunder player grades.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: B

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t the most impactful performance by Gilgeous-Alexander, but it can be excused considering he was a literal game-time decision with a right knee sprain.

In 34 minutes, Gilgeous-Alexander had 24 points on 9-of-19 shooting, six assists and three rebounds. He shot 1-of-6 from 3 and went 5-of-5 from the free-throw line.

He got off to a hot start with 10 points in the first quarter but was limited to 14 points the rest of the way — including just four points in the final frame as OKC attempted to close a deficit.

The Lakers kept sending doubles toward Gilgeous-Alexander and forced him to play an uglified version of his game. The rare outside shooter was forced to take six attempts to counteract Los Angeles’ stifling zone defense.

Who knows how much his knee sprain and the Lakers’ defense played a role, but regardless of reasoning, Gilgeous-Alexander couldn’t turn in his usually efficient 30-point outing.

Jalen Williams: A

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Leading OKC in scoring, Williams’ strong second half helped the Thunder match point-for-point against the Lakers for the most part before Los Angeles pulled away.

In 35 minutes, Williams had 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting, six assists, three rebounds and three steals. He shot 2-of-4 from 3 and went 3-of-4 from the free-throw line.

The 22-year-old scored 19 points in the second half and had eight points in the fourth quarter to keep OKC within distance. He was the lone starter with a positive plus-minus of plus-one.

The second-year wing continues to cement himself as the Thunder’s second-best scorer. The non-SGA lineups are headlined by him and continue to find success even without their MVP candidate.

Chet Holmgren: C-minus

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t the loudest showing for Holmgren. Outside of Gilgeous-Alexander and Williams, the other three Thunder starters were too quiet against the Lakers.

In 31 minutes, Holmgren had nine points on 4-of-9 shooting, eight rebounds, four steals and three blocks. He shot 1-of-4 from 3. The 21-year-old struggled with foul trouble, collecting five — including two in the opening four minutes.

The shot attempts need to increase. There’s no real reason why Holmgren only took nine attempts. On the defensive side, he struggled to contain Davis, who scored 12 points in the first quarter to set the tone for Los Angeles.

A couple of positives for Holmgren in this outing were his block on James and breaking the Thunder rookie record for most total blocks in a season, surpassing Serge Ibaka. Outside of that though, it was a forgettable night for the seven-footer.

“They had 64 points in the paint, which is well above the average we give up,” Daigneault said on OKC’s defense. “They kinda had their way in a lot of possessions. Certainly, like I said, something we can all learn from.”

Isaiah Joe: D-plus

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It was not a good night for the Thunder bench, as Joe’s struggles summarized it. In 20 minutes, he scored four points on 2-of-10 shooting and went 0-of-6 from 3. He also had seven rebounds and two steals.

As the Thunder attempted to mount a comeback, Joe shot 2-of-7 in the final frame and missed all four of his 3-point attempts. They were tough misses that could’ve shifted the tide of this close contest.

It was an off-night for the sharpshooter as the entire team had one of their coldest nights from 3 against the Lakers.


Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire