OKC Thunder Player Grades: Thunder Finish 2021 With Win Over Short Handed Knicks

As discussed in the preview post for this game, I thought the difference will be whether or not Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would play. Well, it looks like that was the case in this win as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the shorthanded New York Knicks, 95-80.

The Thunder were able to win this game behind its hot three-point shooting as the team went 18-of-43 (41.9%). Heading into this game, the Thunder were dead last in the entire NBA in team three-point percentage at 31%. This marked the 17th time in Thunder history that the team made at least 18 threes in a single game, according to The Athletic’s Andrew Schlecht.

Despite the fact that the Knicks were missing Kemba Walker and Julius Randle, the Thunder’s defense should also receive a ton of credit for this win as it held the Knicks to 31 second-half points. The Knicks only had one quarter scoring more than 20 points — the second quarter with points — and nobody outside of RJ Barrett was really able to score the ball.

The Thunder have only made 18 or more 3’s 16 times in their entire history as a basketball team

Tonight, against the Knicks, is number 17.

— Andrew Schlecht (@AndrewKSchlecht) January 1, 2022

 

Overall, just a nice win for the team as they welcomed back Gilgeous-Alexander after missing the Phoenix Suns game last minute due to ankle soreness.

Let’s take a look at player grades:

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: B+

Gilgeous-Alexander made his return after a one game absence with 23 points on 9-of-24 shooting. For the amount of drives and contact Gilgeous-Alexander faced this game, it is a little bit surprising that he only took four trips to the free throw line, going 3-of-4. Nonetheless, Gilgeous-Alexander was able to get whatever he wanted in his drives as the Knicks had no true rim protection this game and that results in some pretty finishes around the rim.

Gonna spend all of 2022 trying to figure out how SGA does this. pic.twitter.com/UrO7ex7Wpq

— Boomtown Hoops (@BoomtownHoops) January 1, 2022

But even with the poor shooting, Gilgeous-Alexander’s impact was clearly felt as he was the leading scorer for the Thunder in a 15-point win against the Knicks.

Watch how shai splits the defense for the finish. So smooth.@shaiglalex | #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/5OoqxXxX7J

— 𝙏𝙝𝙪𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧 𝙁𝙞𝙡𝙢 𝙍𝙤𝙤𝙢⚡️ (@ThunderFilmRoom) January 1, 2022

The bank is ALWAYS open for SGA.@shaiglalex | #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/44irFjGfwr

— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) January 1, 2022

On the injury front, Gilgeous-Alexander said his ankle felt better after missing the last game due to it and that it was the same ankle he dealt with a few weeks ago. He also said that the pain popped back up before the Suns game and that’s what caused him to be ruled out so late before tipoff.

OKC Thunder player grades: Thunder finish 2021 with win over short-handed Knicks

Source:USA Today

OKC Thunder player grades: Thunder finish 2021 with win over short-handed Knicks

Haliburton scores 24 points to help Kings beat Thunder

Source:TSN

Haliburton scores 24 points to help Kings beat Thunder