OKC Thunder blast Wolves via spectacular individual efforts – grades

JANUARY 13: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder shoots the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
JANUARY 13: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder shoots the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
January 13: OKC Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari (8) put up a first half shot over Minnesota Timberwolves guard Shabazz Napier (13). (Photo by Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune via Getty Images) /

Rebounding from a lackluster losing effort the OKC Thunder took care of business against the Wolves via some outstanding individual performances. Player grades offer the details.

In recent years, division rival the Minnesota Timberwolves have given the OKC Thunder a few headaches. Winning games on hail Mary shots and coming up with their best efforts.

For whatever reason Andrew Wiggins seemingly channels Michael Jordan every time the teams meet and at the start of this match it appeared like he might be headed for another one of those “oh not again” performances.

It wasn’t meant to be for the Wiggins, however, as it was another young Canadian who stole the show on this night (did he ever!).

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander delivered what most frontcourt players don’t achieve over their careers with a 20 point, 20 rebound effort with the final rebound coming in the closing seconds of the match. He also added 10 dimes to claim his first career triple-double. Look for more on SGA’s career night in a separate article.

117. 149. 104. 86. Final

Unlike Saturday, the Thunder came out prepared and didn’t allow the Wolves to get any leeway or leverage on them. Although Minnesota held a three points edge after the initial frame, slowly and methodically OKC chipped away at the Wolves and transferred the lead to their side entering the half up by three points.

Demonstrating how this Thunder team improves learning from their weaknesses they took it to the Wolves in the third quarter (typically OKC’s worst quarter) and held a 13 point advantage heading into the final frame.

But for a brief display of individual brilliance from the supremely talented Naz Reid (another undrafted dynamo), the Wolves would’ve been down by over 20 points. Reid gave the Wolves some hope on his individual 15 point run to pull Minnesota within striking distance. But as TI noted on twitter – having a 10 point lead in the final five minutes for the best clutch time crew in the Association may as well be 50 points.

Chris Paul took over and there was a magical three to five minute stretch in the fourth where the Thunder displayed close to perfection basketball on both sides of the hardwood.

Every player on this team knows their role and all those sessions in the clutch have made this club one of the most efficient and calm under pressure. The Thunder are a well-oiled machine and this night served to prove just how far they’ve come since season start.

With that let’s dive into the player grades after a magical Thunder victory.