Thunder report card: Player grades for OKC’s impressive win over the Lakers

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·7 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The Oklahoma City Thunder improved to 2-0 on the season against the Los Angeles Lakers with a come-from-behind victory at the Staples Center Thursday night. Just don’t ask about OKC’s other games, all of which they have lost.

Down 19 points in the second quarter, the Thunder stormed back to make it a four-point game at the half and tied it up with five to go in the third. They outscored the Lakers by 12 points in the fourth quarter, thanks to some gutsy shots from starlet Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and center Mike Muscala in the final minutes.

The Thunder struggled with some shot-making in the first half, hitting just 28.6% of their three-point attempts in the opening two quarters. They cleaned that up a bit in the second half, though, hitting 48.8% from the floor and 42.1% from deep.

They also got a bit of help from an Anthony Davis thumb injury at the tail end of the first half. He had just 11 second-half points, leaving most of the offensive duties to the mostly efficient Russell Westbrook and always-smooth Carmelo Anthony as the Lakers were without LeBron James once again.

The Thunder got some rock-solid performances from their young squad against the oldest team in the NBA once again, so here are some player grades from their win.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: A+

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Despite ceding much of the ball-handling duties this season to rookie Josh Giddey, Gilgeous-Alexander has still been getting his. He came into Thursday averaging a team-leading 22.9 points per game and only added to that tally in the win. He put up 28 points with six assists and three rebounds on 9-for-17 shooting.

He hit some massive shots in the fourth quarter including a bomb from the logo to give the Thunder a six-point lead with 1:18 to go in the game.

The Lakers sent the double-team at Shai all game, forcing him to pull out some tricks. He got a euro-step and-one – and converted it – through three Lakers defenders just two offensive plays after cashing a step-back jumper in the middle of the fourth. He iced the game by running away from a quadruple-team off the in-bound to dish under the basket for a Luguentz Dort flush.

The Lakers sent the house and the 23-year-old didn’t blink.

Luguentz Dort: C

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Lu Dort had a decent game. He was aggressive and hit his free throws late, but really struggled to find his shooting form – and it wasn’t due to a lack of attempts. He went 4-for-14 from the floor and 3-for-11 from deep – Dion Waiters would be proud of his commitment to shooting regardless of the outcome.

Dort was finding himself in some good places to shoot, they just weren’t going in. It happens, seeing him stop shooting would be more concerning than his misses were. He did contribute three assists on the night, including a nifty pass off a drive to Derrick Favors for a baseline jumper in the third quarter.

He tried to make things happen, which is promising, but he did seem to rush things for parts of the game. His minus-one plus-minus is a fitting statement of his performance, just slightly below average.

Josh Giddey: B+

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Giddey can just dazzle you at any given moment, he’s so creative with his passing he’s almost like prime-Mesut Ozil. Wherever you’re not looking, he already has and he’s going to hit that person with an inch-perfect pass to create a bucket. He’s also just eight games into his NBA career and has six or more assists in five of them.

He demonstrated that passing ability against the Lakers once again. After dishing 10 assists in his first try, he got eight this time around. Of all his ambitious attempts one stood out – a cross-court laser to Darius Bazley off an in-bound for a trey.

Giddey seemed hesitant to score Thursday, though, with just five points on 2-for-9 shooting. He is a pass-first point guard, so it’s understandable to see him give up some looks here or there. However, there were multiple chances it looked like he didn’t even think about shooting when he had the space to score. If he can turn some of those auto drive-and-kicks into threes or layups, defenders may have to pay more attention to him on the outside and it will open up more space for his insane passing ability to flourish.

The grade here is for his four turnovers and overall poor shooting night, otherwise, he had an impactful performance.

Darius Bazley: B+

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Usually a streaky shooter, Bazley turned in an efficient performance Thursday. He got 14 points on 6-for-11 from the field and 2-for-3 from deep. He found himself in good spots outside and then took advantage of mismatches to drive to the basket when the opportunity presented itself. He looked really mature on the ball and made some professional decisions.

He only played 24 minutes on the night, the least of all starters, but still impressed. He cooled off after nine points in the first quarter and had three turnovers, so for now, he gets a B+. Overall, it was a promising night of work against a top-tier NBA team.

Derrick Favors: A

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

In a tough matchup with Davis, Favors was a perfect 5-for-5 with 11 rebounds and 10 points Thursday. He quietly cleaned the glass and kept the Thunder in the game despite Davis’ 18 boards. He lost the ball in the post a couple of times, though, hence the minor subtraction from his grade.

Ty Jerome: A

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder’s leading bench scorer Thursday, guard Ty Jerome gave them a necessary offensive spark in the second quarter when the team was down big. He hit three three-pointers in the quarter, the last of which made it a four-point game.

Jerome added some much-needed offense in the second quarter but struggled to hit shots in the fourth so he gets dinged there. Regardless, he put up a new season-high in points and led the game in plus-minus.

Kenrich Williams: A-

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Williams got some burn Thursday, playing 30 minutes off the bench, and it largely paid off for head coach Mark Daigneault. He put up 13 points and eight rebounds while providing a stabilizing force for the second unit made up of partially first-year and second-year players. He laced a pair of threes in the fourth quarter and even got in a bit of a dust-up with Anthony in the final minutes.

Mike Muscala: B+

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Muscala did not play much, but there was a series of offensive plays in the fourth quarter that earned him this grade. With four minutes to go in the fourth, Muscala rolled to the basket and Gilgeous-Alexander hit him for a layup and the and-one through two defenders. He then picked up a defensive rebound on the following possession and hit a trailing three in a major point-swing for the Thunder.

1

1