Scrappy OKC Thunder lose in clutch to desperate 76ers: grades

JANUARY 6: Steven Adams #12 of the OKC Thunder handles the ball against the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
JANUARY 6: Steven Adams #12 of the OKC Thunder handles the ball against the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
JANUARY 06: Steven Adams #12 of the OKC Thunder shoots the ball against Ben Simmons #25 and Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers in the third quarter (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

TERRANCE FERGUSON. B-. . G/F. Oklahoma City Thunder

Surely not a fun night for Terrence Ferguson who drew the primary assignment of stopping Ben Simmons on the ball and slowing Tobias Harris or Josh Richardson. Take your pick none of those matchups sounds like an easy task.

And yet, he was one of the few whose shot was falling at a decent efficiency as he collected six points on two 3-pointers of his four attempts along with a steal.

His defense was okay given the task and arguably about as tough as an assignment as he’ll draw. It’s sort of the adage of the boat with leaks where you plug one hole only for another to spring a leak. The Thunder weren’t successful at stopping Simmons but they did their best to limit him and still almost stole the game.

B+. . PF. Oklahoma City Thunder. DANILO GALLINARI

Again the size factored but Danilo Gallinari held his own. All five Philly starters scored in double figures but by his mere presence he was forcing Tobias Harris or Al Horford to defend him and that resulted in several personal fouls that inevitably sent Harris from the game and once Horford got a more regular diet of Gallo it also limited him.

He got to the line the most (nine free throws) and shot at a decent efficiency in comparison to his team. His shot is still dusting off the rust as he went 4 of 12 from the field and 3 of 8 from deep to garner 18 points. Yet again he delivered in other areas grabbing seven rebounds with two assists and a steal and as is typical for the Italian didn’t turn over the ball.

He’ll continue to get back in rhythm and again I won’t be surprised like Shai if that rust gets shook in Brooklyn.

STEVEN ADAMS. A+. . C. Oklahoma City Thunder

If there was one sad outcome of not winning the match it was the masterful game Steven Adams put forth but won’t resonate as much because OKC lost. He produced the game-high score of 24 points and tied Ben Simmons for a game-high 15 rebounds.

But his work on the offensive glass would make the creators of Windex proud. Most of the second chance opportunities of which the Thunder dominated came courtesy of the Big Kiwi. In all he pulled down NINE offensive boards equaling the entire offensive rebound output of the opponent! He added an assist and two blocks.

Joel Embiid still had a big night but not on the jaw dropping level he’s capable of and while the finger may have contributed to why it was also the presence of Adams who made Embiid work for everything.

If you watch many 76ers games it’s a common sight to see Joel get what he wants in the paint and body people who simply can’t match his strength. Late in the fourth, he went at Adams trying to use his force but Steven held his ground. Embiid tried to push him, use his elbows and any number of tactics but Adams never budged an inch which other than Marc Gasol I haven’t seen from any of Joel’s defenders.

Back when Russell Westbrook was on the Thunder the two had an ongoing friendly nemesis type of interaction. But with Adams you never see Embiid employ the tactics he does so frequently against other bigs like Andre Drummond or Nikola Jokic.

There is mutual respect between the pair similar to how he interacts with Gasol and the specific matchup between the duo was the most entertaining of the night. It seems the Philly star brings out the best in Adams and again, it’s unfortunate the Thunder didn’t get the win so his effort could be rewarded with the appropriate accolades.