Grading the OKC Thunder starters:
Gilgeous-Alexander must have been an honors student because it seems like he can only get an A.
The OKC Thunder’s star guard led the game in scoring with 40 points. In addition to his 40-point game, he dished out 12 assists.
It was only the 12th 10-assist game in Gilgeous-Alexander’s career. His performance on Wednesday also made him the first Thunder player since Russell Westbrook in February 2019 to have a game with at least 40 points and ten assists.
Gilgeous-Alexander made a living at the foul line against the Bulls, finishing one shy of his career-highs at 17-of-18 on free throws.
With the Thunder’s next game coming against the Philadelphia 76ers, Gilgeous-Alexander has an early opportunity to show his MVP-like start to the season against the reigning winner, Joel Embiid.
Josh Giddey can be much more effective, and it begins with his playmaking. While Gilgeous-Alexander took care of much of that area with 12 assists, Giddey finished with only two.
Some of that is just teammates missing shots, but it is far from an outlier for Giddey one month into the season. His scoring has also not been much better.
Giddey scored 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting against the Bulls and never found his rhythm against a pesky defense. But he did nail a corner three in the third quarter to help the Thunder build up their lead early in the half.
Cason Wallace scored the game’s first bucket but was relatively quiet after that. Wallace scored just one other time, a corner three later in the first quarter.
But when a rookie fills in for an established starter in his 15th career game, a quiet night is not necessarily bad. He allowed others to do their thing and played his role well.
However, Wallace did make one other loud play in the third quarter when he emphatically blocked DeRozan’s floater.
Lu Dort was all over DeRozan on Wednesday. Dort held the Bulls’ star to 6-of-17 shooting but fouled out.
Dort sent DeRozan to the line twice as part of his 13-of-13 night from there. Once Dort fouled out, Oklahoma City extended its lead in the last five minutes to get the win.
Before fouling out, Dort did a great job stripping DeRozan and forcing him into tough looks. Offensively, Dort went just 1-of-6 from the floor and missed all four 3-point attempts.
Andre Drummond welcomed Chet Holmgren to the NBA in late October, but the Thunder rookie got the last laugh. Holmgren rejected two of Drummond’s shots as part of his four-block outing against the Bulls.
His rim protection also gave him an impressive block against DeRozan as he tried to throw one down early in the fourth. But Holmgren’s impact went beyond his impact as a shot blocker.
Holmgren tallied a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. He went 8-of-11 from the free-throw line to tie his career-high in makes and set a new one in attempts.
The Thunder’s big man also threw down a couple of dunks and scored an essential basket with about four minutes left when the game was still in the balance.