The Oklahoma City Thunder secured a convincing victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, with a final score of 133-110 on Thursday night. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the charge with a stellar 33-point performance, making 11 of 18 field goals and a perfect 10 of 10 from the free-throw line.
This impressive win comes on the heels of the Thunder's narrow defeats to Philadelphia and Minnesota, marking a significant turnaround in their recent form. Thunder coach Mark Daigneault praised the team's effort, highlighting their energy and work ethic.
"I just thought we really exerted ourselves on the game and our defense — how we scrambled, our running. We were just fast tonight,” Daigneault said. This high-intensity approach was evident throughout the game, propelling the Thunder to a decisive victory.
Lakers Struggle Amidst Injuries
Despite a strong start, the Lakers, led by Anthony Davis with 31 points and 14 rebounds, couldn't sustain their early momentum. LeBron James, who played despite a left calf contusion, contributed 21 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists.
However, the injury-plagued Lakers struggled to maintain consistency. They experienced a tumultuous week, with a significant loss to Philadelphia and a robust win against Detroit, showcasing their fluctuating performance levels.
The Lakers' coach, Darvin Ham, acknowledged the challenges faced at the end of their road trip, noting the team’s effort under trying circumstances. The absence of key players like Cam Reddish, Rui Hachimura, Jaxson Hayes, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Gabe Vincent due to various injuries has hampered the Lakers’ ability to assess their full potential.
LeBron James expressed uncertainty about the team's composition, stating, "I have no idea where we are. We don’t have a group yet. I know what some of us individually are”.
Thunder's Strategic Comeback
The game witnessed a dramatic shift in the second quarter, with the Thunder outscoring the Lakers 42-23 and taking a 72-60 lead at halftime.
Gilgeous-Alexander scored 22 points before the break, while Davis had 19 for the Lakers. Chet Holmgren, who added 18 points for the Thunder, emphasized the team's collective effort and confidence, especially on the defensive end.
Oklahoma City further extended its lead in the third quarter, entering the fourth with a 108-88 advantage. Holmgren scored 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting in the third, contributing significantly to the team’s dominant performance.
The Thunder maintained a lead of at least 15 points for the remainder of the game, showcasing their strength and cohesion as a unit.