Game Grades: Late OKC Thunder comeback falls short in Atlanta

The OKC Thunder were flat for the majority of the night, and it costs the them on the second night of a back-to-back.
Jan 3, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Isaiah Joe (11) misses a three point
Jan 3, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Isaiah Joe (11) misses a three point / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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Grading the OKC Thunder starters:

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, OKC Thunder: B+

Although it was not the level he has played at recently, the Thunder’s star managed to play well enough to give them a chance to end the game.

Gilgeous-Alexander went for 33 points on 11-of-24 shooting. Yes, that qualifies as an off night for him. In typical fashion, he was clutch and took over for Oklahoma City down the stretch.

He scored the Thunder’s final nine points, with most of his buckets coming at the rim. That included a layup in the last 30 seconds that got the Thunder within three and allowed them to play straight-up defensively.

Although he did not come away with any steals, he more than made up for it with his rebounding. Gilgeous-Alexander grabbed 13 boards, tied for the second-best mark of his career and the most he’s had in a game since February 2020.

He also nearly had his first triple-double since 2021, finishing with eight. 

Josh Giddey, G, OKC Thunder: C

Although it was not a great night for Giddey, it was better than his “not great” games from earlier this season.

Most importantly, he continued his recent stretch of good shooting from outside. He finished 2-of-3 from beyond the arc but could not have the same success inside.

His biggest mistake was losing the ball on a fast break against Jalen Johnson as the Thunder tried to make a run in the fourth quarter.

The third-year guard also finished the night with four assists and a steal.

Lu Dort, F, OKC Thunder: B-

Dort shot much better than he did against the Celtics, but it was still not an ideal game from the defensive stud. He finished with 14 points and added three assists, but as the leader of the defense, he was a step slow for a lot of the night.

While that was the case for most of the team, it is especially notable against a backcourt of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray.

Jalen Williams, F, OKC Thunder: A-

Fourth quarter Dub is real.

After struggling for much of the game, Williams scored 12 points on 100% shooting in the final frame. He also tallied four of his six assists in the fourth to give the Thunder a chance in the final minutes.

Williams also added a season-high four steals. Among those was an interception of Young’s pass to Murray, which he finished on the other end early in the third to cut the lead to 11. It also started a lengthy stoppage.

With discrepancies in the foul count for Williams, the officials spent roughly 10 minutes trying to figure out if Williams had two or three fouls. It would turn out to be a rather pointless stoppage in the end, as he finished with just four fouls.

Chet Holmgren, C, OKC Thunder: C-

With no opponents really getting to him so far, traveling from Oklahoma City to Atlanta for a back-to-back may have been his “Welcome to the NBA” moment.

Holmgren struggled to get into any rhythm offensively, shooting just nine times and scoring 12 points. He also had issues taking care of the ball, turning it over four times.

But his most significant impact was what he did not do. For just the fifth time this season, Holmgren failed to record a block as Oklahoma City’s defense was run through all night. In giving up 141 points, the rookie only came down with three rebounds, tying Tuesday’s game for the worst output of his career.