Player grades: Strong fourth quarter leads Thunder to comeback 121-114 win over Hawks

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s energy and effort matched that of the typical Monday for the average person.

There was not enough of it and it felt like the Thunder were going through the motions to an inevitable road loss against a good Atlanta Hawks squad.

That especially felt like the case when the Hawks opened up a 14-point lead in the third quarter. The Hawks opened the second half on a 14-5 run in the opening five minutes and it felt like it was only a matter of time before they started to create distance between them and the Thunder.

Instead, the Thunder finished the game on a 62-41 run from that point forward to a 121-114 win against the Hawks that extended their winning streak to three games.

A massive fourth quarter was responsible for the road win for the Thunder. The opening minutes set the mood for the Thunder as they outscored the Hawks 37-26.

What makes it even more impressive is the fact that the Thunder did it without their best player for the opening seven minutes of the fourth quarter!

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — who finished with a mundane 35 points — did not check into the fourth quarter until the 4:46 mark. After leaving the floor trailing the Hawks by four points, Gilgeous-Alexander returned to the game with a three-point lead.

An unreal seven-point swing that was led by Josh Giddey and the bench unit. After struggling in the first half, Giddey’s strong second half led the Thunder to a win.

For the Hawks, they were led by their starting backcourt. After a quiet first half, Trae Young finished with 23 points on 6-of-19 shooting and 10 assists. Dejounte Murray scored 24 points on 10-of-21 shooting.

After a strong first half, Bogdan Bogdanovic had a quiet second half. Overall, Bogdanovic scored 17 points and went 5-of-10 from three. Clint Capela added 14 points and 16 rebounds.

Let’s take a look at Thunder player grades from this seven-point win.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: A+

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

In the first 33 minutes of the game, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was denied trips to the free-throw line. Gilgeous-Alexander, who is averaging a career-high 9.4 attempts this season, was 0-of-0 from the charity stripe for nearly the first three quarters.

It looked like Gilgeous-Alexander was going to have his first game without a single free throw since December 2021.

That quickly changed in the final 15 minutes as Gilgeous-Alexander shot an absurd 15-of-15 from the free-throw line to tally up to 35 points on 10-of-22 shooting to go along with six rebounds and five assists.

To decipher even further, Gilgeous-Alexander shot 10-of-10 from the free-throw line in the final 4:46 of the fourth quarter.

Ball security was a bit of a problem for Gilgeous-Alexander with six turnovers, but when you constantly score 30 points, it’s easy to forgive him with the turnovers — even easier with highlights like his spin-around, one-handed slam.

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Josh Giddey: A

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

While Josh Giddey’s stat line of 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting, five rebounds and four assists doesn’t scream dominating performance, his fourth-quarter takeover alone deserves an A grade.

Giddey played 11 minutes in the fourth quarter and scored 12 points on 3-of-5 shooting and went a perfect 5-of-5 from the free-throw line. In his 11 minutes, the Thunder outscored the Hawks by nine points.

Giddey provided the Thunder the luxury to rest Gilgeous-Alexander for the opening seven minutes of a close fourth quarter. An unreal achievement that paid large dividends as Gilgeous-Alexander came in with fresh legs to play the closer role.

After shooting 3-of-7 from three last game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Giddey went 2-of-4 from deep this game that included the most impressive three of the game from the Hawks logo.

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Ousmane Dieng: A

Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Since returning from his G League assignment, Ousmane Dieng has played like a different player.

In 19 minutes off the bench, Dieng scored a career-high 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and went 3-of-4 from three. Dieng also grabbed five rebounds.

When the Thunder needed points in the first half, Dieng provided with 10 points — eight of those coming in the first quarter.

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Jalen Williams: B

Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

This was a great game for the Thunder’s two healthy lottery picks.

Jalen Williams received the start as the extra small wing. In 31 minutes, Williams scored 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds.

Williams played a large role for the Thunder’s massive fourth quarter as he played 11 minutes.

Overall, Williams did all of his scoring inside the paint on a variety of driving layups, floaters and dunks.

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Isaiah Joe: B

Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

An unsung hero for this comeback win is Isaiah Joe.

Joe played nine of his 10 minutes in the third quarter and helped mount the comeback with nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from outside.

When the Thunder needed offense, Joe was able to pinch hit and pinch in with his sweet stroke and awesome outside shooting. While his value as an NBA player is solely on his three-point shot, he continues to show he doesn’t need much time to warm up.

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HIGHLIGHTS

Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire