May 22nd, 2024

Gilgeous-Alexander’s 33 points lead Thunder past Pelicans 124-92; OKC takes 2-0 lead

By Cliff Brunt, The Associated Press on April 24, 2024.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 33 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans 124-92 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round Western Conference playoff series.

Chet Holmgren had 26 points and seven rebounds and Jalen Williams added 21 points for the top-seeded Thunder, who shot 59% from the field and made 14 of 29 3-pointers.

Jonas Valanciunas scored 19 points and Herb Jones and Brandon Ingram added 18 each for the Pelicans.

New Orleans continued to struggle on offense without top scorer Zion Williamson, who remained out with a strained left hamstring.

In Game 1, Valanciunas had 20 rebounds, including nine offensive, and the Pelicans outrebounded the Thunder 52-44. On Wednesday, Oklahoma City outrebounded New Orleans 37-35 and held the Pelicans to eight offensive boards.

The Thunder also scored 22 points off New Orleans’ 18 turnovers.

Game 3 will be Saturday in New Orleans.

The pace picked up significantly from Sunday’s game, which Oklahoma City won 94-92. The Thunder, who averaged 120.1 points in the regular season, were much more comfortable with it.

Valanciunas scored 11 points in the first three minutes of the game, but Holmgren countered with 13 points in seven minutes of first-quarter action.

Gilgeous-Alexander, from Hamilton, picked up where Holmgren left off. He didn’t score for the first nine minutes, then scored seven in the final three minutes of the quarter to help the Thunder take a 35-22 lead. Holmgren’s 15 points were the most by a Thunder rookie in any quarter of a playoff game.

Oklahoma City led 63-50 at halftime. Holmgren scored 20 points and Gilgeous-Alexander added 16 before the break.

The Thunder extended their lead to 92-74 at the end of the third, and Gilgeous-Alexander and Holmgren went to the bench for good with the Thunder leading 120-86 in the fourth.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

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