Grading the Thunder’s second win in three nights against Portland

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images) /

The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Portland Trail Blazers 101-98 behind a 27-point performance from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. This was the Thunder’s third straight win following a couple of close losses last week to improve to 14-18.

The Blazers jumped out to an early double-digit advantage in this one and led 32-22 at the end of the first quarter. OKC made some strides in the second quarter, with both teams exchanging buckets. The Thunder cut the first-quarter lead in half and trailed by five through two quarters.

The third quarter saw Portland try to add to its lead and pull away. However, OKC was ready for it and went on a 16-4 run after Portland’s lead again reached ten. A Lindy Waters three-pointer capped off the run and gave the Thunder a lead for the first time since the opening minutes.

The game was even heading to the fourth quarter, where the stars looked to shine, however, neither star put their regular imprint on the game. Like the previous matchup, this game came down to the final few seconds. Blazers star Damian Lillard put up a potential go-ahead jumper in the final seconds but could not even hit the rim, thus allowing OKC to escape with a victory.

Grading the Thunder starters:

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

OKC’s future all-star led the squad past Portland for the second time in three nights behind another stellar performance. Gilgeous-Alexander fell short of his 30-point mark, finishing with 27. Once again, Shai made a living from the free throw line. The guard put up 13 shots from the line and converted 11, including a couple to ice the game. The only real negative from SGA in this game was turning the ball over five times versus his three assists. At the end of the day, that’s just water under the bridge for him and the Thunder since they came away with a win.

Guard. Oklahoma City Thunder. JOSH GIDDEY. B.

Giddey was back on the floor following a two-game absence and did not skip a beat. As he has so many times in his young career, Giddey led the team in assists, dropping six dimes. Giddey was also efficient in his small sample size of scoring the ball, as he finished with 13 points on 75% shooting. Giddey checked back into the game with 3:26 remaining in the fourth and made a huge impact. Over those final minutes, Giddey nailed a floater, assisted Jalen Williams on the last go-ahead basket, and grabbed three boards to help the Thunder sweep the Blazers in this homestand.

. Forward. Oklahoma City Thunder. LUGUENTZ DORT. B+

OKC’s defensive backbone showed up in a big way in this rematch against the Blazers. After Portland’s superstar Damian Lillard put up an efficient 28 points in the last contest, Dort shut him down in this one. Lillard shot only 31% from the floor and 18% from beyond the arc, including an airball over Dort to finish the game. Dort made a nice impact on the other side as well. He ended the night with 14 points, three assists, and nailed a couple of threes.

JALEN WILLIAMS. B. . Forward. Oklahoma City Thunder

The rookie showed his potential once again in this one. Williams finished the game with 15 points to make him OKC’s second-leading scorer on the night behind SGA. The win over Portland marked Williams’s 16th double-digit scoring night of the season and his fifth with 15+ points. Williams’s best play of the night was a dunk to put the Thunder ahead with just 1:31 to go. His bucket would end up as the final lead change of the night to give OKC the win.

ALEKSEJ POKUSEVSKI. D. . Forward. Oklahoma City Thunder

Another rough night for the Thunder’s project. After a promising start to the season, Poku’s streak of games with single-digit points was extended to six on Wednesday against Portland. He finished the game with only six points on seven shots and finished the night with the Thunder’s worst plus-minus. However, it was not all negative for Pokusevski, as he still showed some defensive prowess by snagging two steals.

Thunder’s best bench performer:

B+. . Forward. Oklahoma City Thunder. KENRICH WILLIAMS

Kenny Hustle proved vital to the Thunder’s chances to take down Portland in a second consecutive matchup. Williams ended the night as Oklahoma City’s top rebounder with seven, four coming on the offensive glass. The fourth quarter was where his scoring output was seen. Williams put up six points without a miss from the field in the quarter and came away with his only two steals of the night as well.

Blazers’ best:

B-. . Forward. Portland Trail Blazers. JERAMI GRANT

On a night where Damian Lillard struggled mightily, the former Thunder forward ended as Portland’s top scorer. Although he did not his numbers from the first of the two matchups, Grant finished with 17 points and shot 50% from the field. Grant also managed to grab five rebounds and found his teammates for four assists on the night. Known as a two-way player, Grant finished the game with a rejection to go along with his offensive numbers.

Closing thoughts:

The Thunder are a young team that will point to games like these in years to come that helped them figure out how to win. Another great thing for OKC in this one was the approach at the end. As much as the Thunder wanted Gilgeous-Alexander to have the ball, Portland forced other players to beat them, and they stepped up. Now the Thunder will look to extend their winning streak to four against New Orleans as their homestand continues.

Next. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander wants to break records. dark