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Top Performers From Oklahoma City's Home Opener Against Philadelphia

A pair of Thunder players stood out in OKC's 115-103 loss to the 76ers.

The Oklahoma City Thunder welcomed fans back to the Paycom Center for the first time in nearly 600 days on Sunday night as the Thunder welcomed the Philadelphia 76ers to open up their home slate for the year.

Unfortunately for the fans in attendance, the Thunder fell short, moving to 0-3 on the year with a 115-103 loss.

But despite the final score, Sunday’s contest was likely OKC’s best effort of the year.

The young Thunder team withstood Philadelphia’s initial punch, making runs in the second and third quarters to move within striking distance before the 76ers eventually pulled away.

OKC’s improved effort was fueled by their star duo in the backcourt, who helped keep the Thunder offense rolling despite the early deficit.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

After a so-so start to the season, Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander again had to shake off a slow start on Sunday night.

But when he did, Thunder fans saw every bit of why the franchise rewarded him with a five-year, $172 million contract extension this past summer.

Once he diagnosed the Philadelphia defense, Gilgeous-Alexander was nigh unguardable, shaking defenders off for easy mid-range looks and getting to the rim almost at will.

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In the end, Gilgeous-Alexander led all scorers in the game with 29 points on 9-of-19 shooting, also pulling down six boards and doling out eight assists. The only real negative spot in his game on Sunday was his 1-of-6 shooting performance from 3-point range, but the point guard offset his struggles from deep by getting to the free throw line 12 times.

With all the excitement surrounding Gilgeous-Alexander, it can be easy to forget that the point guard is playing his first NBA games since missing most of last year with an injury, so as he works himself back into the flow of the game, his best days are still ahead of him this season.

Josh Giddey

Three games into the season, and it’s clear that Sam Presti’s No. 6-overall pick belongs.

Josh Giddey is still trying to learn his new position alongside Gilgeous-Alexander, but he looked incredibly comfortable on Sunday night.

The Australian led the team in rebounds (8) and steals (4), while also finishing second in points (19) and assists (7), trailing only Gilgeous-Alexander in the latter two categories.

And while he struggled at times defensively, he gave a consistent level of effort the entire way, and still put forth a great effort even though it didn’t always turn out in his favor.

Giddey also hit 1-of-2 3-pointers, and continues to prove that he has nice grasp on what 3-point shots are in his arsenal, showing a great understanding of his own game via his shot selection.

If his first three games are any indication, Giddey could prove to be a real difference maker sooner rather than later in Oklahoma City. 

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