Grading the OKC Thunder starters:
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, OKC Thunder: A
Winning in Miami is never easy, but Gilgeous-Alexander did his thing for the Thunder.
Oklahoma City’s superstar missed out on an A+ grade because he failed to reach 30 points for just the second time in his past 12 games. Of course, scoring 28 instead of 30 did not have any negative impact on the game, but there needs to be some type of rule that prevents him from getting an A+ grade every night.
As usual, he scored with ridiculous efficiency. Gilgeous-Alexander shot 11-of-17 and got to his spots against a pesky Miami defense. Defensively, he added a steal and a block, but his playmaking has been especially impressive lately.
The star guard added eight assists against the Heat and continued his hot streak there, as he has tallied at least five assists in all but two games since the start of December.
Josh Giddey, G, OKC Thunder: C
It was not a great night for Giddey, but his late flash of brilliance secured the win for Oklahoma City.
After grabbing the rebound off of Tyler Herro’s missed three, Giddey quickly ran into the frontcourt and got trapped along the sideline. It looked like he was a second or two away from calling timeout before finding a streaking Chet Holmgren for a wide-open jam.
That was the last of his only two assists on Wednesday, but he was important on the boards, coming down with seven.
Lu Dort, F, OKC Thunder: B+
Dort had one of his best offensive games in the past couple of weeks in Miami.
He scored 14 points and shot 50% from the floor and beyond the arc (and, unfortunately, the free-throw line). Ultimately, his offense was a plus for the Thunder.
His biggest shot came in the fourth quarter when he knocked down a corner three off an offensive rebound to extend the lead to 16.
Jalen Williams, F, OKC Thunder: A+
Rebounding has cost the Thunder numerous times this season, but none have been more devastating than Wednesday: Jalen Williams finished one rebound away from his first triple-double.
The Thunder forward still had an incredible night against the reigning Eastern Conference champs. He went for 19 points, nine rebounds and a career-high 12 assists.
Those assists are an example of his recent success in getting his teammates involved. Over his past two games, Williams has put up 22 assists combined and has tallied five or more assists in six of his past seven games.
Chet Holmgren, C, OKC Thunder: A
If the Thunder need a quarterback, they know who to go to. Holmgren’s one-armed outlet pass to Cason Wallace, which finished with a lob to Jalen Williams, was one of the highlights as the Thunder made an early third-quarter run.
Holmgren’s night finished with 23 points, including the game-clinching dunk.