Grading the OKC Thunder starters:
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, OKC Thunder: A
The Timberwolves have the NBA’s best defense, and not even they could stop the Thunder’s superstar.
Gilgeous-Alexander scored an absurdly efficient 34 points against the best team in the West. He shot 14-of-19 from the field and 6-of-7 on free throws.
His impressive up-and-under layup in the fourth quarter capped off another excellent night for Gilgeous-Alexander’s MVP campaign. The guard also added six rebounds and nine assists.
Plus, his All-Defense campaign had another solid outing with two steals and a block.
Josh Giddey, G, OKC Thunder: B+
Giddey was dropping dimes early in this one. He put up six of his seven assists in just the first quarter.
Along with his early passing success, he added 10 points and had one of his best games of the past few weeks.
Lu Dort, F, OKC Thunder: A+
The Thunder absolutely would not have won this game without Dort’s outstanding performance on both ends.
Defensively, he was all over Anthony Edwards all night, forcing the Minnesota star to shoot 7-of-16 and give up four turnovers. Dort ended with two steals and two blocks.
Dort also shot lights out against the Timberwolves, going 5-of-6 from 3-point range and 7-of-9 overall. Those makes helped him finish with an even 20 points as one of four Thunder players to hit that mark.
Jalen Williams, F, OKC Thunder: A-
The second-year forward is turning into an All-Star.
Williams helped the Thunder get some easy buckets in important situations. Particularly in the fourth quarter with Karl-Anthony Towns guarding him.
On back-to-back possessions early in the fourth, he rose up over Towns to nail a couple of threes and push the Thunder’s lead from 11 to 17.
Williams tallied 21 points and two blocks on 7-of-11 shooting.
Chet Holmgren, C, OKC Thunder: A
In a matchup against two All-Star bigs, Holmgren proved he belonged and may have been the best one out there.
After the Thunder let the Timberwolves get back in the game to end the second quarter, Holmgren came out firing to begin the third. He scored nine quick points out of halftime, including two wide-open 3-pointers from both wings.
Although foul trouble cut his third quarter short, he picked back up in the fourth quarter to close out the game with a straight away three over Rudy Gobert. That put Oklahoma City up 17, and the home team cruised from there.
The rookie finished with 20 points, four rebounds and five assists. He also blocked a Towns 3-pointer from the left wing in the third quarter.