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Apr 22, 2024 12:32 am

Thunder hold on for Game 1 victory over Pelicans

thunder, pelicans

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 28 points to lift the Oklahoma City Thunder to a thrilling 94-92 win in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series on Sunday in Oklahoma City.

In the Thunder’s first playoff game since 2020, Gilgeous-Alexander made a pair of key baskets in the final two minutes to give Oklahoma City the series lead.

Oklahoma City went more than five minutes in the fourth quarter without a field goal as the Pelicans regained the lead, 90-88.

But after the Thunder missed six consecutive shots, Gilgeous-Alexander turned things around.

First, he hit a pull-up jumper to tie the game with 1:36 remaining, then fought through traffic to hit a floater and the free throw after being fouled to put the Thunder back up front.

But the Pelicans weren’t done.

CJ McCollum hit a turnaround fadeaway a few seconds later to pull New Orleans within one, and Oklahoma City’s Chet Holmgren missed one of two free throws to keep Oklahoma City’s lead at two.

With 14 seconds left, the Pelicans had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead, but Cason Wallace locked in defensively on McCollum, first reaching out for a deflection, and then keeping McCollum from getting a clean look. McCollum’s potential game-winner missed the mark.

Playing without Zion Williamson, who sustained a left hamstring strain in the play-in loss to the Lakers, the Pelicans fought hard throughout.

They fell behind by nine midway through the third quarter before a 16-6 run put them back in front.

Trey Murphy III scored seven points during the stretch, which put the Pelicans ahead 66-65 late with 1:57 left in the third.

Oklahoma City quickly rebounded, finishing the quarter on a 9-2 run.

The Thunder stretched the lead to 10, their largest of the game, early in the fourth quarter, but New Orleans quickly bounced back.

Jalen Williams added 19 points for Oklahoma City, while Holmgren, like Williams making his playoff debut, had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.

Oklahoma City had not won a game scoring fewer than 102 points this season.

Murphy led the Pelicans with 21 points, McCollum added 20 while Jonas Valancuinas had 13 points and 20 rebounds.

–Field Level Media

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