Thunder’s losing streak extends to five with a 123-117 loss to the Lakers

OKLAHOMA CITY — With the Los Angeles Lakers in town for the first time this season, the usual aura that surrounds them was noticeably absent.

Not having LeBron James, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or Anthony Davis will do that. Even with the lack of star power, it was an entertaining, back-and-forth game that saw the Oklahoma City Thunder fall to the Lakers, 123-117.

The game featured seven lead changes and seven ties with neither team leading by more than 13 points.

“I thought we really competed tonight for the most part,” Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said. “Played really hard for much of the game. Bounced back a couple of times (and) weathered a couple of runs and just kept ourselves in it… I was just impressed by the compete level of the team tonight. I thought we brought it from a competitive standpoint.”

The loss extended the Thunder’s losing streak to a season-high-tying five games as they still seek their first post-All-Star break win.

Without their top-three scoring leaders, the Lakers relied on the whistle to generate a lot of their points as they went 31-of-39 (79.5%) from the free-throw line — a significant advantage over OKC’s 18-of-24 (75%) night.

This included a 14-of-18 fourth-quarter that saw several questionable calls at the end rile up both the home crowd and the Thunder.

“They shot 39 free throws. If you look at the last couple, if that’s the bar for what a foul is in an NBA basketball game, then I thought (Josh Giddey), Jalen Williams, (Lu) Dort (could’ve received more calls) — they have size and so people tend to bounce off them a little more — but illegal contact is illegal contact,” Daigneault said. “… If the standard that was applied down the stretch that game was applied throughout it, I thought they could have had a big night… The officials aren’t perfect and that’s not the expectation. All we’re asking for is fairness and consistency”

Someone who did receive some timely calls was former Thunder guard Dennis Schroder, who led the way for the Lakers with 26 points on 8-of-18 shooting and 7-of-8 shooting from the free-throw line. Troy Brown Jr. and Austin Reaves each scored 19 points as well.

Besides the free-throw line, the Lakers also used a significantly better night from outside to beat the Thunder. The Lakers shot 16-of-35 (45.7%) from 3 — meanwhile, the Thunder went 11-of-40 (27.5%) from 3.

For the Thunder, they started off hot but eventually cooled off. The Thunder started off 7-of-12 (58.3%) from 3 but went 4-of-28 (14.3%) the rest of the way.

With this loss and their general play since the All-Star break, the Thunder are in front of a fork in the road.

The Thunder are 2.5 games back in the reverse standings for the fifth-best lottery odds and are two games back from the 10th spot in the actual standings. How the second half of this six-game homestand will reveal a lot.

Let’s take a look at Thunder player grades.

Josh Giddey: A

Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

After being buried in criticism for his worst game of the seasonJosh Giddey bounced back 24 hours later to turn in 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting, 11 assists and nine rebounds.

A near triple-double for the 20-year-old after playing a season-low 19 minutes against the Sacramento Kings the day before.

“It was good that it was a 24-hour turnaround,” Giddey said. “Kinda put the last game in the past. Those types of games are gonna happen throughout a career, especially as a young player. It’s never going to be a steady improvement game-by-game. There’s always gonna be ebbs and flows and willing to take those types of games on the chin and acknowledge them.”

Giddey attacked the paint and shot 9-of-13 in that area. With the Lakers not having Anthony Davis, it provided the Thunder a weakness to attack as they outscored them inside the paint, 60-34.

Lou Dort: B-plus

Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Lu Dort joined Giddey in the “F” department for player grades in the Thunder’s loss to the Kings on Wednesday as he played just 21 minutes.

Just like Giddey, Dort turned it around the next day as he finished with 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting and went 4-of-6 from the free-throw line. Albeit, Dort went 1-of-7 from 3, but that comes with the territory of an inconsistent outside shooter.

Jalen Williams: A

Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

It was another awesome game for Jalen Williams as it’s becoming a norm for him to have high-efficient 20-point games.

Mirroring the last time he played the Lakers, Williams finished with 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting and went 3-of-5 from 3 — the three made three-pointers tied a career high. Williams also collected seven assists and four rebounds.

“When he’s aggressive downhill, he’s athletic, he can finish, he leads the NBA in dunks for guards. So it kinda speaks to that,” Giddey said about Williams. “… Best thing about him is that he makes players better around him.”

Isaiah Joe: B

Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

With the Thunder mounting a comeback – cutting the Lakers’ lead to five points with 1:35 left in the game – Isaiah Joe played a vital part as he scored seven points in 12 fourth-quarter minutes.

Overall, Joe finished with 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting and went 3-of-9 from 3 in 29 minutes as he returned to his usual bench role this game.

In terms of production from Joe, this is a happy medium.

It’s unrealistic to ask him to score 26 points like he did in his two starts with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander out, but it’s also unfair to think his eight-point outing against the Kings last game was a sign of regression.


Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire

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