'I’m him': How Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stunned Staples Center in another Thunder rally vs. Lakers
LOS ANGELES — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander pulled up from the “L” in Lakers.
Gilgeous-Alexander’s logo launch was a stunner. The Thunder star has shown range, but not that kind of range. Not in that kind of spot.
“I’m him,” Gilgeous-Alexander screamed after the Lakers called timeout.
“I’m him,” he yelled again.
It felt like a flashbulb moment of the 23-year-old’s young career. It came against the Lakers under the famed lights of Staples Center.
Gilgeous-Alexander’s 34-footer put the Thunder ahead 101-95 with 1:18 left. The Thunder hung on, rallying from a 19-point deficit to beat the Lakers 107-104 on Thursday night in Los Angeles.
The Thunder is 2-0 against the LeBron-less Lakers. Against the rest of the league: 0-6.
Somehow, Gilgeous-Alexander’s shot seemed to transcend the Thunder’s win.
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The wins are going to be rare this season, and that’s good for the Thunder’s future. What really matters are the steps OKC’s young players take, and Gilgeous-Alexander took a mighty big one Thursday night.
“I just felt it,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “I usually don’t shoot that shot in a game.”
Gilgeous-Alexander said he practices it, though. But that’s in a relaxed shooting competition with his teammates. The stakes are a little higher against the Lakers.
“It was something that I was familiar with, so it wasn’t like a crazy shot to me,” he said. “But yeah, I felt good when I shot it.”
Thunder coach Mark Daigneault didn’t get a good look at the shot. Hardly any look at all. He was directing Kenrich Williams to a certain spot on the floor when Gilgeous-Alexander fired away.
“Next thing I knew, the ball was in the air,” Daigneault said. “I would say poor clock management. We’ll run laps for that, but obviously a gutsy play.”
Daigneault was half kidding. It wasn’t great clock management, but Daigneault isn’t trying to rein in his star player.
Williams was also caught off guard.
“I wasn’t ready for that shot,” Williams said. “Anybody else, I would’ve said something. But for Shai, I’m cool with that. He does that.”
Gilgeous-Alexander didn’t just yell after burying the shot. He pumped his right arm and flexed in front of his teammates. He doesn’t often show that kind of emotion.
“I wasn’t gonna yell at first,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “I was gonna be calm, but Ty (Jerome) got me hyped.”
After not initially divulging what he yelled, Gilgeous-Alexander eventually gave in.
Here are four more takeaways from the game:
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SHAIVONTE AICIAN GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER pic.twitter.com/TP8XN51fmI
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) November 5, 2021
A four-guard lineup of Gilgeous-Alexander, Jerome, Josh Giddey, Luguentz Dort and Darius Bazley (the lone big-ish man) outscored the Lakers 15-6 in the final three minutes of the first half.
A Lakers lead that had swelled to 19 points was reduced to four points by halftime.
Credit Daigneault for the unconventional lineup combination.
“We were struggling to shoot it,” Daigneault said. “Obviously we had Ty out there, and I wanted to give him another roll and see if he could get it going. Obviously he did.
“Those guys, we were small. We had Bazley at the five and we had those four guards out there … You’re kind of betting on your guys’ toughness and feistiness on the defensive end. And not only did we get it going a little more offensively, but we got stops during that stretch, too.
That probably changed the tenor of the game.”
Jerome was 3-of-8 from 3-point range with 14 points off the bench.
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Russ and Melo
Former Thunders Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony had their moments Thursday night.
Anthony, already a fan favorite in Los Angeles, had 21 points off the bench. It’s way early, but Anthony is a legitimate candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.
Anthony made a pair of clutch 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter. The second cut the Thunder’s lead to 105-104 with 10 seconds left.
There were chants of “Me-lo, Me-lo, Me-lo” to the soccer tune of “ole, ole ole.”
Westbrook took the Lakers’ last shot. His game-tying 3-point attempt missed.
Westbrook had a costly turnover with 21 seconds left, but he was mostly good. He had 27 points, six rebounds and five assists. He shot 10-of-23 from the floor and 3-of-6 from 3-point range.
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No answers for AD
Anthony Davis had 14 points in the first quarter on 7-of-8 shooting.
He steamrolled Bazley, but there wasn’t much for Bazley to do. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Derrick Favors also had their turns against Davis. Favors notched a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Davis finished with 29 points, 18 rebounds and five assists.
The only thing that slowed Davis was a hand injury he suffered in the second quarter.
To Bazley’s credit, he got some back on the offensive end. Bazley had 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
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Lu Dort returns
Dort (right shoulder contusion) was back in the starting lineup Thursday night after sitting out Monday against the Clippers.
Gabriel Deck (left heel contusion) remained out for the Thunder.
Dort wasn’t efficient on offense, and he wasn’t his usual self on defense.
He finished 4-of-14 from the floor, including a poor 3-of-11 night from 3-point range.
Dort was clutch, though.
He scored the Thunder’s final six points. He went 4-of-4 from the free-throw line in the final minute, and he had a leak-out dunk with 17 seconds left out of a timeout.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Thunder vs. Lakers: Five takeaways from OKC's win against Los Angeles