Grading the OKC Thunder starters:
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, OKC Thunder: B-
It certainly was not always pretty for Gilgeous-Alexander, but he came through with one of the biggest plays of the night for the Thunder. The star guard stole an inbounds pass and went the other way for a layup to push the lead to four with only 36 seconds left.
It took some time for the Thunder’s star to get going offensively, but it did not matter. Gilgeous-Alexander still finished with 17, and the Thunder had already built a healthy lead before he made his first field goal.
That lead did not last, and Dallas’ defense against Gilgeous-Alexander was a big reason. Dallas double-teamed the Thunder’s star on almost every possession throughout the night, which heavily affected him and the Thunder’s offense. That strategy did, however, lead to Gilgeous-Alexander racking up nine assists.
He also continued to show his two-way ability, racking up five steals as he looks to be the league’s leader in that category.
Josh Giddey, G, OKC Thunder: F
The good news is that Giddey nailed multiple 3-pointers for the fourth time this season. Unfortunately, it was because Dallas refused to guard him on the perimeter, and it worked out.
Giddey finished only 4-of-13 from the floor.
Aside from his struggles as a scorer, his playmaking continued to be questionable. While he made a few nice reads, the third-year guard often forced the issue by trying to make something happen himself when Gilgeous-Alexander was doubled.
Giddey finished with only one assist and committed two turnovers. He also played only 3:45 in the second half after a poor start to the third quarter.
Lu Dort, F, OKC Thunder: C
Dort’s three first-quarter fouls set him back to begin the game. Still, he had already knocked down an early 3-pointer.
However, Dort’s third foul was deemed flagrant as he hit Richaun Holmes in a rather painful spot. After the first quarter, Dort’s night went south.
He shot just 4-of-13 and was forcing things as Oklahoma City gave up a 30-0 run in the fourth quarter.
Jalen Williams, F, OKC Thunder: B
Williams built on Thursday’s performance against the Lakers with another good game in Dallas. The second-year star went for a team-high 23 points in the Thunder’s tight win.
A couple of 3-pointers to begin the second half helped the Thunder extend their lead to as much as 24 in the opening minutes of the third quarter. After the Thunder’s lead reached 24 again in the fourth quarter, it disappeared, but Williams got a layup that gave the Thunder the lead back in the closing moments.
Along with his game-winning bucket, Williams had five rebounds and five assists.
Chet Holmgren, C, OKC Thunder: B+
Holmgren’s night was not ideal, but his performance in the closing minutes gave the Thunder a much-needed boost. Two buckets at the rim tied the game with less than two minutes left.
The rookie’s defense also came through in the clutch. Holmgren blocked three Dallas shots in the last four minutes, and Oklahoma City desperately needed each of those stops.
Mavericks rookie Derrick Lively proved to be a tough matchup for the Holmgren, but he still played effectively in the end. Holmgren finished the night with 11 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.