Game Grades: Big nights from SGA, Jalen Williams not enough to complete comeback against Lakers

The OKC Thunder fall short against the L.A. Lakers in a must-win game for the Purple and Gold.

Dec 23, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jalen Williams (8) drives
Dec 23, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jalen Williams (8) drives / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
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The Oklahoma City Thunder needed a Christmas miracle, but it was only Dec. 23.

The Los Angeles Lakers held off a Thunder rally in the fourth quarter to win 129-120 in Paycom Center. Twenty-point games from three players pushed the Lakers to a win to end their four-game losing skid.

The OKC Thunder’s late comeback was not enough against the Lakers.

Anthony Davis made it known that this was a “must-win” game for the Lakers, and they delivered, handing the Thunder their first home loss in December. Outside shooting proved to be a killer for the Thunder, both in their deficit growing and as they tried to shrink it.

Oklahoma City shot 13-of-41 from 3-point range, missing a plethora of wide-open looks. From Jalen Williams to Isaiah Joe to Davis Bertans, some of the late looks the team needed most would not fall.

The Thunder were also outplayed by the Lakers’ bench, which had three players to score in double figures. Among them was Rui Hachimura, who finished with 21 and six rebounds.

The Lakers had a massive start to the third quarter, where they built their lead to as large as 26. LeBron James’ 40-point night was the catalyst for the early second-half success.

After the loss, the path ahead does not get easier for the Thunder, with the West’s top team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, entering Paycom Center on Tuesday.