Rare event as OKC Thunder lose to Celtics in clutch time – grades

FEBRUARY 9: Kemba Walker #8 of the Boston Celtics handles the ball against the OKC Thunder (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
FEBRUARY 9: Kemba Walker #8 of the Boston Celtics handles the ball against the OKC Thunder (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
FEBRUARY 9: Steven Adams #12 of the OKC Thunder shoots the ball against the Boston Celtics (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

C+. . PG. Oklahoma City Thunder. LU DORT

Tough game for Lu Dort due more to a reputation whistle than anything else. If you’re wondering why the Canadian has replaced Terrance Ferguson in the starting rotation a look at Kemba Walker’s output with Dort as the primary defender is telling.

In his limited 12 minutes on the court, the only non charity stripe points Walker scored was one 3-point shot. Up until the whistle sent Dort out of the game in the second quarter Kemba hadn’t added to that total. In response the guard also scored a triple — that’s a huge win for the Thunder.

Moving forward, Donovan needs to figure out a way to solicit the refs’ respect of Dort’s defensive chops. I’ll touch on this more in ‘three takeaways’ but the coach can’t simply accept the whistle on plays where Dort has clearly not committed a foul.  Once the playoffs arrive the team needs to know they can get a fair whistle particularly on perfectly executed defense.

It might be worthwhile burning a few coaches challenges specifically on Dort leading up to the postseason just to establish his reputation with the stripes.

Hence the guard’s grade is more reflective of his time on the hardwood than his actual contribution.

A. . PF. Oklahoma City Thunder. DANILO GALLINARI

Let’s start by citing how happy the TI team is Danilo Gallinari is still a member of the OKC Thunder. Sure, he’s played a game since the trade deadline passed but that wasn’t a typical effort from the forward who no doubt had an emotional Thursday waiting to learn if he was staying or going.

This match was much more in keeping with his seasonal efforts. The efficiency was back as were his typical contributions in all game facets. His underrated defense, the rebounds, and hockey pass leading to the dime for the score.

He matched SGA with a team-high 24 points on a highly efficient 8 of 14 from the field, 3 of 6 from deep and 5 of 6 from the stripe. In addition, he added five rebounds (two offensive) and an assist.

It did feel like there should’ve been a few more shots extended his way but much like SGA he never forces his game or shot attempts.

B-. . C. Oklahoma City Thunder. STEVEN ADAMS

I’m torn on how to rate Steven Adams in this game because all the typical things that don’t show up on the box were on full display. Early in the game, his presence in the paint was a key to why the Celtics couldn’t gain any traction. His defense was clearly on display for the entirety of the match.

But where he failed to make a mark was on offense. Unlike most nights where he doesn’t get many touches the crew got him 10 field goal attempts but he only converted on two. If the Big Kiwi hits just one of those other seven (we’re not counting that wild 3-point shot at the end of the shot clock) shots the game goes the way of the Thunder. This is more about finishing at the basket with force or working on the push shots he’s recently been taking.

The loss doesn’t fall on his shoulders because he does so much right but by the same token, he needs to be more efficient and effective when he does get more than a few field goal attempts so the Thunder can capitalize on his presence against opponent bigs who can’t stop Adams.

He finished with a meager four points (on those 10 field goals) and a solid 11 rebounds (five on the offensive glass) plus two assists.

The other note is the Thunder had the clear size advantage upfront but the Celtics won the rebounding battle (by nine) and Theis playing at less than 100 percent matched Adams with 11 boards.