The Oklahoma City Thunder picked up a big win on Sunday.
Trailing by 10 points entering the fourth quarter, the Thunder outscored the Memphis Grizzlies 38-22 in the final frame to pick up their 17th win of the season. Oklahoma City got a big boost from Aleksej Pokusevski, who made history by scoring 23 points, pulling down 10 rebounds and knocking down five 3-pointers, but it was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who led the way.
The Canadian scored a game-high 30 points on 8-for-17 shooting from the field, 4-for-6 from 3-point range and 10-for-11 from the free throw line. He also dished out five assists, tying him with Ty Jerome for team-high honours.
Gilgeous-Alexander now has eight 30-point games this season after having three such games in the first two seasons of his career combined.
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It wasn't just that Gilgeous-Alexander had 30 points in a comeback win over the Grizzlies that was impressive either. It's the way he did it.
With the game in the balance, Gilgeous-Alexander checked back in with 5:41 remaining in the fourth quarter. Within two minutes, he helped the Thunder stretch a two-point lead to an eight-point lead, effectively securing the win for Oklahoma City.
It started with him hitting a tough midrange pull-up over De'Anthony Melton to make it 114-110 with 5:05 to go.
He followed it up with a 3-pointer out of a pick-and-roll with Pokucevski to make it 117-110 with 4:35 to go.
He then hit a step back 3-pointer over Ja Morant following a couple of free throws from Isaiah Roby to make it 122-114 with 3:12 to go.
Three straight buckets, each of which was self manufactured.
Gilgeous-Alexander has been doing that a lot this season. According to NBA.com, a whopping 87.2 percent of his total field goals have been unassisted. Why is that notable? It's the highest rate in the league among qualified players (i.e., players who have appeared in at least 15 games).
Luka Doncic ranks second to Gilgeous-Alexander with 84.5 percent of his field goals being unassisted, followed by Chris Paul (82.6 percent), Trae Young (81.2 percent), James Harden (78.4 percent) and Russell Westbrook (76.1 percent), a group of All-Stars or former All-Stars.
It would be one thing if Gilgeous-Alexander was struggling with efficiency, but he's not. Far from it. In his first season as a No. 1 option, he's averaging 23.7 points on 50.9 percent shooting from the field, 41.5 percent from 3-point range and 80.8 percent from the free throw line, numbers that once again have him rubbing shoulders with a group of All-Stars. He's the leading reason why the Thunder now have a 17-22 record, moving them to 11th in the Western Conference and only two games behind the Grizzlies in 10th.
Gilgeous-Alexander fell short of being named an All-Star this season, but performances like the one had on Sunday serve as a reminder of how much of a leap he's made this season and make you think that it's only a matter of time until he's getting that recognition.
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