Grading the OKC Thunder starters:
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, OKC Thunder: A
The Thunder’s superstar showed up in Houston, but his teammates failed to help him out. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 33 points on 13-of-18 shooting and seemed to get just about anything he wanted when he had the ball.
Still, this is the type of game where the Thunder needs a hero ball performance to win. As great as 72% shooting is, another 10 shot attempts may have been worth a drop in efficiency.
When he did not have the ball, he was phenomenal at taking matters into his own hands. With six, the NBA’s steals leader had another big night in that category.
Gilgeous-Alexander’s steal and score to end the first half put Oklahoma City down only five at halftime. To go with scoring and steals, he also led the Thunder in assists with six.
Josh Giddey, G, OKC Thunder: C-
At first glance, it looks like Giddey had a solid game, as he committed no turnovers for the second time this season. He also finished with at least six assists for only the seventh time this season and knocked down the Thunder’s only two 3-point makes of the first half.
While the latter is more an indictment of Oklahoma City’s overall performance, it did not bode well for Giddey either. Those looks from outside came as Houston defended him as other teams have begun to on the perimeter: not at all.
Giddey made the Rockets pay with those jumpers, but he shot only 3-of-11 from the floor.
Lu Dort, F, OKC Thunder: D-
Dort’s defense was fine, but it’s hard to ignore his overall negative impact. Much like Giddey, Dort’s spacing was nonexistent, and it cost the Thunder.
He finished 0-of-5 from the field and played a season-low 14 minutes against Houston. Dort also finished with a plus-minus of -27, another season-low for him.
Jalen Williams, F, OKC Thunder: C+
Not to say that Williams had a great night, but he was the only other semblance of offense in the starting five. Still, he forced a number of looks and finished 5-of-13 from the floor.
Williams also grabbed a team-high five rebounds with three assists and a steal.
Chet Holmgren, C, OKC Thunder: B-
Holmgren was right in the middle of Oklahoma City’s rough night offensively with a 2-of-9 shooting game. Never getting to the line, he scored a career-low four points in his second game scoring in single digits.
But his shot-blocking was spectacular.
Holmgren finished with six blocks, his most since the second game of the season. While his defensive presence was not enough to get the Thunder a win, he continues to show that rough shooting nights will not stop him from immensely impacting the game as a rookie.