Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder scored an impressive 40 points, with 17 coming in a pivotal third quarter, propelling his team to a 119-93 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. This performance marks the fifth time this season that Gilgeous-Alexander has crossed the 40-point threshold, nearing his career-high score set in the previous season.
His remarkable efficiency was evident as he went 14 of 20 from the field and flawlessly executed all 10 of his free throws. Thunder coach Mark Daigneault praised Gilgeous-Alexander's approach to the game, noting his ability to let the game flow naturally without forcing his play.
Daigneault commended his player for making the right passes and maintaining honesty in his gameplay, contributing significantly to the Thunder's success.
Thunder's Rising Momentum
The Oklahoma City Thunder have been on a significant upswing, winning three straight games and eight of their last 10.
This streak has allowed them to overtake the Nuggets in the Northwest Division. The Nuggets, despite their strong season performance, have found the Thunder to be a challenging opponent, with their only two recent home game losses coming against Oklahoma City.
Nuggets' Stalwart Jokic and Rising Star Holmgren
On the Nuggets' side, Nikola Jokic continued his efficient shooting streak, scoring 19 points on 9 of 10 shooting. However, his efforts were not enough to counter the Thunder's momentum.
Despite his impressive shooting, Jokic also faced challenges, committing seven turnovers, nearly matching his career high. Conversely, for the Thunder, Chet Holmgren emerged as a significant contributor, scoring the team's first 10 points and finishing with 24.
His performance was particularly notable from the 3-point range, where he was a perfect 4 of 4. Holmgren's presence on the court has been a game-changer, not only in scoring but also in drawing attention from defenders, which Gilgeous-Alexander acknowledged as beneficial for the team.
Decisive Third Quarter and Closing Strong
The game's turning point came in the third quarter when the Thunder executed a 19-4 run to take a commanding lead. Gilgeous-Alexander's 11 points towards the end of this quarter were crucial in setting the stage for the Thunder's victory.
Despite a brief resurgence from the Nuggets, the Thunder maintained their lead, with key contributions from Jalen Williams and Kenrich Williams from behind the arc. As the game neared its end, Holmgren's fourth 3-pointer of the night sealed the Thunder's victory, demonstrating the team's depth and versatility.