Thunder 76ers Basketball

Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, right, dives for a loose ball Thursday against Oklahoma City Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander during the game in Philadelphia.

It had been over three minutes since the third quarter began, and the Oklahoma City Thunder still hadn’t scored a basket.

Rookie forward Jalen Williams, who has developed into a real contributor for the Thunder, found fellow rookie Jaylin Williams for an easy dunk. The score halted a 13-0 run by the Philadelphia 76ers to start the second half.

The Sixers’ run erased an impressive first half for the Thunder. But following a quick timeout early in the second half, the Thunder found its groove and finished the third quarter on a 34-15 run.

Despite a sluggish start, the best third-quarter team in the NBA worked its magic once again in its most impressive road win of the season, as the Thunder defeated the Sixers 133-114 on Thursday.

Despite a size disadvantage, the Thunder overcame it and outscored the Sixers ins the paint, 52-44. The Thunder also outshot the Sixers from the 3-point line, going 14-of-32 (43.8 percent).

For the Sixers, star duo Joel Embiid and James Harden led the way. Embiid finished with 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting and 10-of-10 shooting from the free-throw line. Harden collected 24 points and 15 assists.

After struggling to score against the Miami Heat on Tuesday, the Thunder shot 44-of-86 (51.2 percent) from the field and recorded 28 assists against the third-best defensive team in the league.

Here are three other thoughts from the Thunder’s 19-point win:

1. Gilgeous-Alexander continues All-Star game momentum

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to play like one of the best players in the league.

Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 37 points on 10-of-16 shooting and went a perfect 16-of-16 from the free-throw line. Gilgeous-Alexander also added eight rebounds and six assists.

The 24-year-old had a strong first and fourth quarter. In the first quarter, Gilgeous-Alexander scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting.

To close the game out, Gilgeous-Alexander scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and went 8-of-8 from the free-throw line to seal the win.

A timely great performance for Gilgeous-Alexander, who is No. 4 in fan All-Star voting for Western Conference guards.

With the gap between him and Ja Morant has grown to 58,000 votes, it’s unlikely Gilgeous-Alexander finishes in the top two and gets named a starter.

However, Gilgeous-Alexander is on pace to easily make the All-Star game as a reserve, and a 37-point high-efficiency performance against one of the best teams in the league on the road should strengthen his case.

2. Jaylin Williams records best game of the season

Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault decided gave Williams the starting nod at center after not playing for over a week.

Williams returned the trust by turning in the best game of his rookie season. Williams finished with a career-high 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting and five rebounds.

Although fouling was a bit of a problem — Williams finished with five fouls in 18 minutes — it’s still easily the best game of his season.

3. Thunder gets revenge from New Year’s Eve

The Sixers were a home favorite heading into the game, and the Thunder continue to deal with front court injuries and the Sixers listed nobody on their injury report.

Heading into the game, the Sixers were 13-3 in their last 16 games and had the third-best net rating in the league, outscoring opponents by 8.8 points per 100 possessions.

In their last game, the Sixers scored 147 points in regulation in a win against the Detroit Pistons.

The last time these two teams met also helped strengthened that hunch, as the Sixers blew out the Thunder, 115-96, on Dec. 31.

Instead, the Thunder returned the favor and led by as many as 21 points.

Up next: The Thunder continues its road trip and plays the Chicago Bulls on Friday.

Clemente Almanza is a sports reporter intern for The Transcript. You can reach him via email at calmanza@normantranscript.com or on Twitter @CAlmanza1007

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