Grading the OKC Thunder starters:
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, OKC Thunder: A-
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a solid outing against Minnesota but it was not enough to get the win. His missed 3-pointer in the final seconds could have tied it, but he rushed it as he expected Minnesota to foul.
That is one of the minimal criticisms of Gilgeous-Alexander in his 32-point performance. With 13-of-22 shooting, the Thunder’s star had some important baskets and an assist to Holmgren in the final minutes to give his team a chance.
Defensively, the Thunder guard had three steals, all in the third quarter. Gilgeous-Alexander added a couple of blocks, including one on his cousin, Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
Josh Giddey, G, OKC Thunder: D
While the OKC Thunder have yet to comment on Josh Giddey’s off-court situation, fans in Minnesota were uninterested in staying quiet. Giddey was booed just about every time he touched the ball on a night when he finished with one assist and two turnovers.
Giddey still finished with 10 points on 50 percent shooting and six rebounds. He also led the team in offensive rebounds with three.
Lu Dort, F, OKC Thunder: B
As usual, Lu Dort was matched up with one of the league’s best. This time, it was Anthony Edwards. Edwards went for 21 points in 28 minutes.
Dort helped hold him under 50 percent shooting before Edwards left with a hip injury after a hard fall. Meanwhile, Dort made only one shot on the other end.
His first-quarter jumper gave him his only three points of the night.
Jalen Williams, F, OKC Thunder: C
Jalen Williams finally returned to the court for Oklahoma City after what felt like an eternity. Okay, it was only three games, but after a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, his impact was clearly missed.
However, his first game back was not pretty. Williams shot only 2-of-10 against the Timberwolves and missed every shot he attempted from beyond the arc.
Williams did nail six of his seven free throw attempts, but clearly, his rust was an issue.
Chet Holmgren, C, OKC Thunder: B+
Chet Holmgren was supposed to have his NBA debut in Minnesota last season, but it took more than a year for the rookie to make an appearance in his hometown.
Holmgren went for a stat line most rookies would dream of getting. He finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists, posting team-highs in the last two categories.
Holmgren shot only 6-of-20 from the floor but still made a critical 3-pointer in the final moments to pull within two points. In addition to his offense, Holmgren also made an impact defensively.
He blocked a Rudy Gobert dunk in the fourth quarter and had a steal just before halftime but refused to throw up a Taj Gibson-style heave at the buzzer.