(Photo credit: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chet Holmgren have the potential to develop into one of the NBA's top tandems.
Then again, the two Oklahoma City players already are mixing pretty well just 13 games into Holmgren's NBA career.
Gilgeous-Alexander and Holmgren are coming off an epic outing in which they combined for 76 points. The Thunder will seek their fifth straight victory when they visit the hapless Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night.
Gilgeous-Alexander recorded 40 points, seven rebounds and six assists and Holgrem had a career-high 36 points to go with 10 boards and five assists in Saturday night's 130-123 overtime win over the host Golden State Warriors.
The 40-point effort was the second of the season for Gilgeous-Alexander, who was an All-Star as well as a first-team All-NBA selection last season.
The Thunder trailed by 18 midway through the third quarter before battling back and forcing overtime on Holmgren's turnaround 3-pointer as time expired in regulation.
"It felt good coming out of my hands and it went in," Holmgren said. "... We were down big at points. But we stayed together and we were able to string together enough plays to give us a chance and send it to OT."
Oklahoma City outscored the Warriors 13-6 in the extra session. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 10 of the Thunder points but he cited Holmgren as the key ingredient in the victory.
"The kid's a fighter," Gilgeous-Alexander said of Holmgren. "Every possession, every play, he fights and he competes. He took over the fight mentality to give us an extra five minutes to go win the game."
Next up for the Thunder is a Portland squad that has dropped six straight games.
Oklahoma City has beaten the Trail Blazers eight consecutive times, sweeping the four matchups in each of the past two seasons.
The Trail Blazers have struggled offensively while dropping nine of their first 12 games this season.
Clearly, Portland's attack was going to take a hit after the trade of longtime star Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks. But Anfernee Simons, seen as the person to become the new go-to scorer, injured his right thumb in the season opener and will be sidelined into December.
Offseason acquisition Malcolm Brogdon's recent absences have represented another blow. Brogdon (hamstring) will miss his fifth straight game on Sunday.
Second-year guard Shaedon Sharpe is a promising player who ranks second on the squad with an 18.6 scoring average. But the 20-year-old often tries to do too much, the latest evidence being the career-worst 10 turnovers he committed during Friday night's 107-95 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. He also had seven miscues against Los Angeles five nights earlier.
"It's one of those tough things when you're developing," Portland coach Chauncey Billups said of Sharpe. "Sometimes it's painful. But then you've got to learn from it. You've got to take and learn from it. That's the beauty of it. Or if you don't learn from it and keep doing it, that's when it gets really tough."
The Trail Blazers have scored fewer than 100 points in half of their 12 games, including the past three. Portland ranks last in the NBA with a scoring average of 103.9.
Forward Jerami Grant leads the Trail Blazers with a 22.7 scoring average. He scored 24 points against the Lakers and has topped 20 in eight of the past nine games.
--Field Level Media