Grading Thunder player in loss to Pelicans

OKC Thunder forward Jalen Williams (8) and forward Kenrich Williams (34) celebrate after Jalen scores against the Toronto Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
OKC Thunder forward Jalen Williams (8) and forward Kenrich Williams (34) celebrate after Jalen scores against the Toronto Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oklahoma City Thunder nearly pulled off a 21-point comeback over the New Orleans Pelicans but fell short in overtime 128-125. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s career-high 44 points weren’t enough to steal the win from the short-handed Pels team.

The Oklahoma City Thunder failed to complete the comeback over the New Orleans Pelicans and lose 128-125 in overtime.

OKC went down double-digits early in the first quarter as the offense struggled heavily. SGA was the only player keeping the team alive in the first frame. In the second quarter, Oklahoma City found themselves down by 21 points and the offense was nowhere to be seen.

For New Orleans, Jose Alvarado could not miss from downtown and Jaxson Hayes was unstoppable in the paint, having his way with every defender the Thunder put on him.

The Thunder headed into halftime down 64-48 and the game looked like it was headed out of reach for the young OKC squad.

However, Oklahoma City bounced back in the third quarter, cutting the lead to single digits. The offense finally got shots to fall, especially from Aleksej Pokusevski, who scored eight straight Thunder points. Josh Giddey also played very well in the second half and displayed great chemistry with Gilgeous-Alexander.

With under a minute left in the game, the Thunder found themselves up by two. However, an out-of-control layup attempt by Jalen Williams ended with the Pelicans scoring on the opposite end with 25 seconds remaining.

Tre Mann used his handle to shake up C.J. McCollum but missed the layup high off the glass, sending the game into overtime.

In overtime, the Pelicans jumped ahead to a seven-point lead, but OKC would not quit. The team found themselves with multiple opportunities to tie but just could not convert. Gilgeous-Alexander did have a last-ditch attempt to tie the game with a half-court heave but just missed.

149. Final. 128. 69. 125

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s final game before Christmas results in a 128-125 overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. OKC now has a 14-19 record and faces the San Antonio Spurs on the 27th.

Grades for Thunder starters:

Oklahoma City Thunder. JOSH GIDDEY. A+. . G

This game was one of Giddey’s of the season. He scored 20 points on an efficient 9-for-15 from the field and an amazing 2-for-3 from three. He also grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out six assists, plenty of which were jaw-dropping passes that threaded the needle perfectly. He showed amazing chemistry with SGA down the stretch and hopefully, Giddey has a lot more games like this in the future.

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

Gilgeous-Alexander was hot the entire night for the Thunder, scoring a career-high 44 points and grabbing 10 rebounds and six assists. He was extremely efficient on the night, shooting 17-of-29, including 3-4 from three with the only miss being the half-court heave at the end. His finishing was spectacular, easily finishing layups with both hands. Just another phenomenal game for SGA’s All-Star campaign.

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

Luguentz Dort did not have a great game on the offensive side of the floor by any means. He shot just 3-for-10 from the field, 4-of-7 from the free throw line, and failed to connect on all four of his three-point attempts. On his drive to the basket, he looked out of control and couldn’t get many to fall. However, there’s no denying he’s elite on defense and he still made the Pelicans’ guards work.

C. . F/G. Oklahoma City Thunder. JALEN WILLIAMS

Throughout the season, Williams has looked like he’s been in the league for years. However, in this game, he had many rookie mistakes, especially in the first half. After a 1-for-8 start, Williams finished 4-for-12 from the field. He did improve in the second half, but still not one of his better games.

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

Poku had a fantastic game, stuffing the stat sheet. He scored 17 points on 7-for-11 from the floor and shot 3-of-5 from three. He also had six rebounds, three assists, and an amazing four steals. His eight straight points in the third quarter were instrumental in the Thunder’s comeback and overall he played a great game.

Grading the best Thunder player off the bench:

B. . G. Oklahoma City Thunder. TRE MANN

This game was Mann’s third game played in three nights after spending some time with the OKC Blue, where he averaged 37.5 points through two games. Thunder fans were hoping that Mann’s performance in the G-League would help him put things together and he played pretty well off the bench in this game. He scored nine points and nailed three three-pointers for OKC. He nearly won the game for the Thunder at the end of regulation but was just short.

Grading best opponent:

B+. . C/F. New Orleans Pelicans. JAXSON HAYES

Hayes scored 21 points off the bench for the Pelicans. He was unstoppable in the paint, dunking at will. He provided troubles for the Thunder and was a matchup nightmare the whole game for a smaller Thunder squad.

Next. NBA legend praises Josh Giddey. dark