Player grades: Wemby takes over in Thunder’s 132-118 loss to Spurs

As the shot clock expired, Tre Jones let off a last-second 3-pointer that swished in with the buzzer sounding off. The next possession saw Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s layup attempt rim out. Victor Wembanyama then jogged back and drilled a deep 3-pointer.

The three-play sequence late in the fourth quarter encapsulated the type of night both teams endured.

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s six-game winning streak was snapped in their 132-118 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, who snapped their five-game losing streak.

“I thought they were the aggressor in the game,” Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said on the loss. “I thought they did a really good job from the jump of dictating the pace and physicality. Got themselves into a rhythm that was hard to turn off on the defensive end of the floor.”

Both teams started on fire, being tied at 37 points apiece following the first quarter. The Spurs added to their high-point total with a 32-point second frame. OKC entered halftime with a 69-64 deficit.

The Thunder only ate three points off the halftime deficit after a 32-point third quarter. Defense continued to be a problem for both squads as the Spurs entered the final frame with a 98-96 advantage.

To open the fourth quarter, Jalen Williams rattled off the first four points on a pair of baskets to give OKC its first lead since the first quarter. Following that, both teams exchanged punches in the back-and-forth affair.

The Thunder eventually carved out small three-point leads, but the Spurs kept answering on the other end. A 16-5 run — sparked by three 3-pointers — in the final four minutes helped San Antonio run away on the scoreboard for the double-digit result.

The Thunder shot 49% from the field but went an icy 9-of-31 (29%) from 3. A 21-of-22 night from free throws helped make up for that shortcoming. They dished out 20 assists on 40 baskets. OKC had four double-digit scorers.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander tallied 31 points on 22 shots. Chet Holmgren had 23 points and seven rebounds. Williams scored 26 points on 18 shots.

Outside of those three though, the rest of the Thunder struggled. Isaiah Joe had 15 points and the rest of the team combined for 23 points among the nine other players who played.

Despite the off night from 3, what cost the Thunder this game was on the other end. The Spurs — who have the fourth-worst offensive rating and worst 3-point percentage — had one of their best offensive outings of the season.

The Spurs shot 53% from the field and went a sizzling 19-of-39 (48.7%) from 3. They dished out a season-high 39 assists on 48 baskets. Six Spurs players scored double-digit points.

Wembanyama — the probable Rookie of the Year winner — finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks. He is the first player in NBA history with 10 rebounds, five assists, five blocks, and five 3-pointers in a game. The rookie phenom single-handily closed out the Spurs’ 12th win with a pair of deep 3-pointers and blocking Holmgren’s jumper.

Devin Vassell equaled Wembanyama with 28 points and nine assists. Jeremy Sochan scored an unorthodox 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Jones had 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Overall, it was a tough loss for OKC — especially considering how tight the top-four standings are in the Western Conference. The upset stings even more considering how heavily favored the Thunder were.

The Thunder never looked sharp on defense and the Spurs failed to cool off from outside. OKC will have a couple of days off to marinate this loss before continuing its stretch run of the season.

“Credit them, I thought we tried to turn it on defensively but they were really, really sharp tonight,” Daigneault said. “They were the better team.”

Let’s look at Thunder player grades.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: B-plus

Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Even though Gilgeous-Alexander scored 30-plus points, it was a quiet fourth quarter for the MVP candidate as the Spurs pulled away.

In 35 minutes, Gilgeous-Alexander had 31 points on 12-of-22 shooting, six rebounds and three assists. He shot 6-of-7 from the free-throw line.

It was a limiting first half for Gilgeous-Alexander, who had 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting in the opening two quarters. After the break, he exploded for 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the third quarter — including a pair of one-handed jams.

All the momentum gathered in the third frame disappeared when he checked into a three-point game with a little over six minutes left. He tallied four points down the stretch as the Spurs shot 5-of-10 from 3 to collect the win.

Even though he had 31 points, the distribution was too feast or famine for the usually-consistent 25-year-old. A surprising result considering how awful the Spurs are on defense.

Chet Holmgren: B-plus

Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t let the viral clip of Wembanyama stuffing Holmgren’s desperate jumper fool you, the seven-foot rookie went toe-to-toe with his counterpart and held firm for most of the night.

In 33 minutes, Holmgren had 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting, seven rebounds, five assists and one block. He went a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line.

It was a hot start for Holmgren, who scored 11 points in the first quarter — including dribbling up for a pull-up 3-pointer in front of Wembanyama. He tallied 19 points in the first half as he headlined OKC’s efforts to start.

The second half is when it started to unravel a bit for Holmgren, who was held to four points on five shots.

The 21-year-old couldn’t get anything going as the ball seldom landed in his hands. The aggressiveness faded as the contest progressed — he’ll need to stay at the level he was in the opening frame for entire games.

Jalen Williams: B-plus

Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

As the Thunder tried to snap out of a sleepy first half, Williams led the charge with a strong second half.

In 33 minutes, Williams had 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting, six rebounds and three assists. He scored 18 points in the final two quarters — including nine in the final frame as he tried to mount a comeback.

The 22-year-old attacked the basket and gave OKC a brief lead twice in the final period. The outside shot didn’t fall — he went 1-of-5 — but his drives yielded positive results.

Despite the loss, Williams had a solid night and was OKC’s best closer as it tried to sneak away with a road win.

Isaiah Joe: B

Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder only had one double-digit scorer outside of their trio and that was Joe.

In 23 minutes off the bench, Joe totaled 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting and went 4-of-7 from 3. He scored nine points in the opening frame and made up for Gilgeous-Alexander’s quiet quarter.

With Josh Giddey struggling, Joe ate up a ton of the starter’s playing time — who played just 18 minutes. This included being part of the Thunder’s fourth-quarter lineups for six minutes.

Joe was excellent, but the Thunder’s depth needs to do better as a whole. OKC needs more contributions from its non-trio. The lack of production from them played a huge role in this upset loss.


Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire