Saturday, April 20

OKC Thunder player grades: SGA scores 37 points on 16 shots in loss to Kings


The Oklahoma City Thunder fall to the Sacramento Kings, 131-110, in Monday’s game against two teams in the bottom of the standings.

Even with the loss, it’s hard not to be mesmerized by another elite scoring game for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as he finished with 37 points on 16 shots. Since returning from his ankle sprain, Gilgeous-Alexander has scored 105 points on 62 shots. This has easily been the best scoring stretch of Gilgeous-Alexander’s season and arguably of his career.

Now while the final score indicts a 21-point blowout, this was actually a close game for most of the contest as it went into halftime tied up at 59 apiece. The Kings were able to use a 72-point second half to blow this game open and create a significant enough lead to put this one away.

De’Aaron Fox led the way with 29 points while Harrison Barnes’ 23 points and Trey Lyles’ 24 points helped out as well. Former Thunder rookie Domantas Sabonis finished with 14 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists.

Overall, the Thunder defense wasn’t really there this game like it is most and the Kings were able to get anything they wanted pretty easily, especially in the second half. Outside of Gilgeous-Alexander, not a ton to be too impressed with outside of the fact that some of the bottom roster guys were able to contribute and that this loss helps out the reverse standings tremendously. Let’s take a look at player grades.

 

Feels like I’ve been repeating myself for three straight games now but Gilgeous-Alexander once again had a phenomenal game as he finished with 37 points on 12-of-16 shooting along with going 10-of-14 free throw shooting and racking up 10 assists and seven rebounds. That is just absurdly efficient scoring for a driving guard. Gilgeous-Alexander is attacking the basket more and using his elite driving skills to either get high efficiency shots around the rim or getting fouls called to get to the line.

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In his last three games since returning from an ankle sprain, Gilgeous-Alexander has totaled 105 points on 38-of-62 (61.3 percent) shooting and 24-of-34 from the free throw line.

These are prime James Harden numbers — outside of the free-throwing shooting but still– that Gilgeous-Alexander has been producing in his last three games and it’s wild to see this type of production from a 23-year-old guard. Gilgeous-Alexander will come back down to Earth a bit because these type of numbers are just not sustainable but that should not take away from just how impressive this stretch has been.

Tre Mann finished the game with 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting and four assists. Overall, it was a decent scoring game for the 18th overall pick. But considering nobody else on the team scored more than 12 points outside of Gilgeous-Alexander, it’s a little disappointing that Mann didn’t insert himself a bit more as he is easily the second-best scorer on the Thunder who played tonight.

Now while this wasn’t Aleksej Pokusevski’s best shooting game as he finished with nine points on 4-of-12 shooting, he was able to contribute in other ways with eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals.

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Pokusevski continues to play quality NBA minutes and this game was a good growing step as it showed that the 20-year-old can still contribute to a game even if his shot isn’t falling.

This was easily Olivier Sarr’s best game as a pro as he finished with 12 points and four rebounds. Considering how little depth the Thunder have at the traditional center spot, I expect Sarr to receive some starts before the season ends.

Vit Krejci played a career-high 29 minutes and turned in a good performance as he finished with 10 points and five rebounds. Expect to see Krejci continue to get consistent minutes with so many injuries and during the final weeks of the season.

After beating the Indiana Pacers last Friday, the Thunder really needed this loss against a Kings team that was just 1.5 games back in the reverse standings. The Thunder are now three games up on the sixth-placed Kings with this critical loss. If the Thunder are going to finish with top four lottery odds, losing to teams that are close to you in the standings is going to br crucial to reach that goal.

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault revealed before the game that Josh Giddey was going to miss some time with hip soreness. This news sucks to hear because Giddey has had a great rookie campaign and this injury looks like it’s going to derail any momentum the 19-year-old had for faint Rooke of the Year hopes.

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Aaron Wiggins also sprained his ankle during the game and Daigneault said the team will know more on Tuesday. This is the same ankle injury that caused Wiggins to miss five consecutive games before returning just two weeks ago.



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