NBA: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder edge Pelicans in Game 1

NBA: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder survive Pelicans in Game 1

/ 01:42 PM April 22, 2024

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Thunder beat Pelicans Game 1 NBA Playoffs

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) drives past New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas, left, and forward Herbert Jones (5) in the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, April 21, 2024, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Kyle Phillips)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 28 points, including the go-ahead basket in the final minute, and the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder edged the New Orleans Pelicans 94-92 in Game 1 of their NBA first-round Western Conference playoff series Sunday night.

New Orleans’ CJ McCollum missed an off-balance 3-pointer in the closing seconds and the Thunder held on to win their first home playoff game since 2019.

Jalen Williams scored 19 points and Chet Holmgren added 15 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks for the Thunder, who will host Game 2 on Wednesday night.

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Trey Murphy III scored 21 points and McCollum added 20 for the Pelicans. Zion Williamson, New Orleans’ leading scorer in the regular season, sat out with a strained left hamstring.

Gilgeous-Alexander made an off-balance jumper with 32.5 seconds left to break a 90-all tie and was fouled on the play. With the crowd chanting “M-V-P!” Gilgeous-Alexander made the free throw to put Oklahoma City ahead 93-90.

McCollum’s mid-range jumper made it 93-92.

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READ: Thunder rout Mavericks for top spot in NBA Western Conference

Holmgren was fouled with 14 seconds left. He missed the first free throw and made the second to put the Thunder ahead 94-92 and set up McCollum’s final shot.

The energy from the Oklahoma City fans — most wearing white Thunder T-shirts — was off the charts, and Holmgren brought them to a fever pitch by opening the scoring with a 3-pointer.

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The game was tied at 17 at the end of the first quarter and tied at 43 at halftime. The Thunder held New Orleans to 34% shooting in the first half, but missed a lot of open shots. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 11 points before the break.

New Orleans led 50-48 in the third quarter before the Thunder went on an 11-0 run over a three-minute span that put them up 59-50.

New Orleans recovered to briefly take the lead, but Oklahoma City closed the third quarter strong. Isaiah Joe hit a 3-pointer with 6.6 seconds left in the quarter to put the Thunder up 74-68 heading into the fourth.

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TAGS: OKC Thunder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

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