Player grades: Thunder spoil LeBron’s historic night in 133-130 win over Lakers

With the third quarter winding down, LeBron James caught the ball in the high post at the right elbow and operated his way into a one-legged fadeaway shot on Kenrich Williams.


Just like that, James made basketball history by scoring his 36th point of the night to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most all-time points in league history.

The filled crowd counted down and cheered for every bucket James made. It erupted on the record-breaking shot.

What commenced afterward was an unprecedented mid-game ceremony that featured NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Abdul-Jabbar celebrating James’ historical accomplishment.

After the extended pause, the Oklahoma City Thunder would go on to spoil the night a bit for James and the Los Angeles Lakers in a 133-130 win.

The aura surrounding Tuesday’s game would intimidate most teams — especially one the youngest teams in the league. But not the Thunder.

“Tonight was obviously an incredibly unique experience,” Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said. “It’s a team that has grown through these challenges. When we conquer a challenge — I think we conquered a challenge tonight in terms of our poise and maturity — it gives us confidence.”

A 21-8 fourth-quarter run led the Thunder to the win. The run gave the Thunder a 13-point lead with 3:27 left and created enough distance on the scoreboard to secure the road win — even with a late Lakers run closing that gap.

James will get all of the headlines from this game — and deservingly so — but this was a stellar showing for the Thunder that showed out when all eyes in the sports world were on them.

The Thunder might’ve only been on TNT because of James chasing history, but they left an impressive mark as they come away with the win.

Defense was optional in this historical game as both teams produced points at an efficient level.

The Thunder went 49-of-94 (52.1%) from the field and 17-of-34 (50%) from 3 on 32 team assists. They also went 18-of-20 (90%) from the free-throw line.

Meanwhile, the Lakers went 49-of-85 (57.6%) from the field and 14-of-31 (45.2%) from 3 on 27 team assists. They also went 18-of-26 (69.2%) from the free-throw line.

The most exciting thing about this win is the fact that multiple players on the Thunder contributed to the win — including several of their young core.

Six Thunder players scored at least 10 points with four of them being starters in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Jalen Williams and Jaylin Williams — the last three being additions to the team in just the last two draft classes.

For the Lakers, outside of James’ record-breaking 38 points, there wasn’t a whole lot. Russell Westbrook recorded 27 points and eight assists off the bench. Anthony Davis was held to 13 points and nine rebounds.

Besides James and Westbrook, nobody else on the Lakers took more than nine shots.

They knew the mission.

Let’s take a look at Thunder player grades.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: A+

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

LeBron James wasn’t the only 30-point scorer in this game as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished with another high-efficient 30-point outing.

Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 30 points on 9-of-17 shooting and went 11-of-12 from the free-throw line. Gilgeous-Alexander also collected eight assists.

19 of those points came in the first half. Gilgeous-Alexander did a lot of work in the mid-range as he hit three non-paint twos on the left side of the court.

A mundane 30-point piece for Gilgeous-Alexander.

Jalen Williams: A+

Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Considering the circumstances surrounding this game, Jalen Williams played like an absolute star in front of what will likely be the largest audience of a Thunder game this season.

Williams showed out and finished with 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting and went 3-of-6 from 3 to go along with seven rebounds and a career-high six (!) steals.

Growing up a Lakers fan and Kobe stan, Williams playing his first game in LA must’ve felt surreal — especially even more with James chasing history.

Williams had every reason to play passive and be a bit starstruck at everything surrounding Tuesday’s game, but instead, he showed out and was one of the catalysts for OKC’s upset win.

An awesome performance for one of the best rookies in the league that caught the eyes of a national audience.

Jaylin Williams: A+

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

While Jalen Williams was great, Jaylin Williams was as impressive.

Williams received another start and turned in one of his best games of the season with 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting, 2-of-2 shooting from 3, seven assists, seven rebounds and two steals.

Recently, Williams is starting to turn his season around after a slow start to his rookie campaign. Williams’ ability to stretch the floor has definitely helped this as he is shooting a crazy 15-of-30 (50%) from 3 this season.

Josh Giddey: B

Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

With Gilgeous-Alexander and Williams balling out, Josh Giddey played third fiddle in the win.

Giddey finished with 20 points on 10-of-19 shooting, six assists and five rebounds.

Considering he faced Anthony Davis at the rim, Giddey lavished inside the paint as he went 9-of-14 with a variety of tough finishes around the rim and creative floaters.

Isaiah Joe: A

When the Thunder needed timely buckets, Isaiah Joe answered the call.

Off the bench, Joe was unconscious from deep as he scored 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting from 3. 10 of Joe’s 11 shots were from 3.

After a slow first half, Joe was on fire in the second half with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting from 3.

Joe’s been a great addition for the Thunder and night’s like Tuesday show it. In the brightest of lights in LA, Joe continued to hit it from 3.

If the Thunder make a serious run for the Play-In tournament, Joe’s shooting will be a serious weapon that can swing momentum their way.


Mike Muscala: A

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Just like Joe, Mike Muscala provided some crucial three-pointers.

Muscala finished with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting and 4-of-7 from 3 off the bench.

Muscala passed the three-point baton to Joe following halftime as 14 of his 16 points came in the first half — the complete opposite type of night for fellow sharpshooter Joe, who scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half.

While neither Joe or Muscala are part of the Thunder young core, they’ve been fantastic additions to the roster who have a serious chance of staying in OKC for the long run — especially if they continue to shoot the ball the way they have these last two games.


Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire