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Apr 6, 2024 5:50 pm

Thunder still banged-up with Hornets on horizon

oklahoma city thunder

Without their two leading scorers, the Oklahoma City Thunder dropped three straight games for the first time this season.

Oklahoma City will attempt to snap its skid against the host Charlotte Hornets on Sunday, but the Thunder could once again be without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams in the finale of a five-game road trip.

Gilgeous-Alexander(30.3 points per game) has missed three straight games and five of the past six due to a quad contusion, while Williams (19.5) might miss a fourth consecutive game with a sprained left ankle.

Williams is questionable for Sunday, but Gilgeous-Alexander has already been ruled out.

“Those are injuries that basically the timetable is dictated by how they respond to the recovery and that whole process,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “We’ll let the timetable play out.”

Oklahoma City (52-25) has lost five of its past eight but entered Saturday in third place in the Western Conference, just one game behind the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets, who were both in first at 53-24.

Minnesota owns the tiebreaker with Denver.

“We’re not panicking,” Thunder guard Josh Giddey said. “We’re not flustered or worried as a team. We know what we’ve got here.”

Oklahoma City is coming off Friday’s 126-112 loss at Indiana, and the Thunder are just focused on getting themselves back on track.

“At the end of the day, there’s things that we can’t control, and what we can control is winning or losing this game to an extent,” Oklahoma City center Chet Holmgren said.

Sunday marks the finale of the two-game season series between the Thunder and Hornets. Oklahoma City beat Charlotte 126-106 on Feb. 2.

Less than a week later, the teams made a trade that sent Gordon Hayward to the Thunder for Vasilije Micic, Davis Bertans, Tre Mann, two second-round draft picks (one in 2024, one in 2025) and cash considerations.

Hayward last played for Charlotte on Dec. 26 before missing nearly two months due to a calf injury. He didn’t play in the second half of Friday’s game due to left lower leg soreness.

The Hornets (19-58) are coming off a 124-115 home win over the Orlando Magic on Friday.

Brandon Miller had 32 points on 11-of-13 shooting from the field in the win. He was 10-for-10 in the first half, hitting all five of his 3-pointers en route to 26 points.

Miller became just the second player ever to score at least 25 first-half points on 100 percent shooting from the field, 100 percent shooting from the free-throw line — where he went 1-for-1 before the break — and 100 percent shooting from deep (with at least five threes attempted).

Stephen Curry was the other player to accomplish the feat, doing so in 2021.

“That’s a great accomplishment,” Miller said. “(Curry is) one of the greats. Definitely a great shooter. So being in that category, I think that’s a blessing.”

Sunday’s contest will be the penultimate home game for Hornets coach Steve Clifford, who announced earlier this week that he will be stepping down at the end of the season.

Clifford has been impressed with Miller, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2023 draft.

“He’s a very mature, very poised player,” Clifford said of Miller. “I mean, the things he does, you can’t teach.”

–Field Level Media

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