Grading Thunder players in last-second win over Trail Blazers

Jalen Williams of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Jalen Williams of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 123-121 behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s game-winning buzzer-beater. After a slow start to the game, SGA climbed back to score a game-high 35 points and down the Trail Blazers on Damian Lillard’s historical day.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s last-second mid-range shot propels the Oklahoma City Thunder over the Portland Trail Blazers 123-121.

The Trail Blazers started hot early and the Thunder struggled to put together some offense. Portland jumped out to an early double-digit lead, but OKC went on a 12-2 run to end the first quarter to tie the score at 28 a piece.

Gilgeous-Alexander struggled to get shots to fall, starting the game just 2-of-12 from the field. However, the Thunder bench kept OKC rolling. Seven Thunder players scored double-digit points, including Kenrich Williams, Mike Muscala, and Isaiah Joe, who all came off the bench.

The Thunder took a three-point lead going into halftime, which was impressive considering Portland’s hot shooting and SGA’s slow start to the game offensively.

In the third quarter, Damian Lillard made Trail Blazer history, passing Clyde Drexler to become the all-time leading scorer of the franchise. Lillard had 28 points on the night for the Blazers.

The game was very back-and-forth down the stretch. Jalen Williams split a pair of free throws to set up Lillard’s reverse layup to tie the game at 121 with just three seconds left in the game.

With time winding down, SGA took one dribble moving left and hit a fadeaway jump shot over Justise Winslow to win the game as time expired.

149. Final. 121. 34. 123

With Shai struggling at the start of the game, it would have been easy for the Trail Blazers to pull away, but OKC stayed in it the whole way and eventually came out on top. The Thunder improves to 13-18 on the season and 8-7 at home.

Grading Thunder starters in 123-121 win over Trail Blazers:

. G. Oklahoma City Thunder. SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER. A

This game is Gilgeous-Alexander’s 20th game scoring 30 points or more on the season and his 10th game scoring 35 points or more. SGA started out just 2-for-12 from the floor but made eight of his next 12 shot attempts. Shai has been very clutch for the Thunder all season and this buzzer-beater is just another highlight of his All-Star campaign.

. G/F. Oklahoma City Thunder. LUGUENTZ DORT. B+

This was not Lu Dort’s best offensive game, scoring 13 points shooting just 3-of-8 from the field, but he certainly made his presence known. For the majority of the game, Dort was guarding Damian Lillard and although Dame played great, Dort got the last laugh. His lockdown defense forced a huge steal late for the Thunder that resulted in free throws for OKC.

B-. . G/F. Oklahoma City Thunder. AARON WIGGINS

The Thunder have a 6-0 record when Aaron Wiggins is in the starting lineup. Although it may not be a direct correlation, there’s no denying Wiggins plays winning basketball. In this game, he scored 12 points on a solid 4-of-9 shooting. He did miss all three of his three-pointer attempts, but overall not too shabby.

B+. . F/G. Oklahoma City Thunder. JALEN WILLIAMS

With Josh Giddey out for the second consecutive game dealing with illness, Jalen Williams saw an increase in touches. He scored 13 points, including an emphatic put-back slam in the third quarter. He also posted seven rebounds and four assists. The rookie has been a bright spot for this OKC squad and he already looks like an NBA veteran.

C+. . F/C. Oklahoma City Thunder. ALEKSEJ POKUSEVSKI

Pokusevski scored just eight points while shooting 3-of-9 from the field. He was unable to connect on any of his four three-point attempts, but he did stuff the stat sheet with six rebounds, three assists, and one block. Poku did miss two critical free throws in the fourth quarter and it’s easy to see why OKC opted to leave him on the bench in the final two minutes.

Grading the Thunder’s best player off the bench:

B+. . C/F. Oklahoma City Thunder. MIKE MUSCALA

Muscala scored 12 points in just 16 minutes of action. He shot 4-of-5 from downtown and provided a shooting spark for OKC off the bench. Not much more you can ask for from Muscala.

Grading the best opposing player:

B. . G. Portland Trail Blazers. DAMIAN LILLARD

Lillard made history in this game for the Trail Blazers solidifying himself as one of the best Portland Trail Blazers of all time. He also had a very good game, scoring 28 points and dishing out six assists while cashing in six threes. Although overshadowed by Gilgeous-Alexander’s game-winner, Lillard had a plethora of clutch plays down the stretch, including a reverse layup to tie the game at 121.

Lillard and the Trail Blazers won’t have to wait long to get their revenge on the Thunder, as the two teams match up again on Wednesday in Oklahoma City.

Next. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's game winner launching All-Star campaign, Damian Lillard makes history. dark