NBA playoffs

Thunder strike again, thrash Pelicans by 32 


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Thunder strike again, thrash Pelicans by 32 

HOTSHOT. Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander gestures after scoring a basket against the Pelicans in Game 2 of their playoff series.

Alonzo Adams/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

‘I think it's important for us not to get drunk on the final score,’ says Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault as the Thunder take a 2-0 series lead over the Pelicans

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 33 points and Chet Holmgren added 26 as the host Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans, 124-92, to take a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference first-round playoff series on Wednesday, April 24 (Thursday, April 25, Manila time).

Oklahoma City owns its first 2-0 edge in a playoff series since the 2013 first round. Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is set for Saturday, April 27, in New Orleans.

Gilgeous-Alexander, who shot 13-of-19 from the floor, produced his best scoring total in a postseason game. Holmgren hit 9-of-13 as the Thunder shot 59% from the field, including 14-of-29 (48.3%) from beyond the arc.

“I think it’s important for us not to get drunk on the final score,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “Shooting the ball like that is never guaranteed.”

Jonas Valanciunas scored the Pelicans’ first 11 points and finished with a team-high 19 after scoring 13 points in the Pelicans’ 94-92 Game 1 loss. His rebound total dropped from 20 in the opener to a team-high 7 on Wednesday.

New Orleans’ Herbert Jones and Brandon Ingram added 18 points apiece.

The Pelicans led by two after Jones hit a three-pointer just more than four minutes into the game for the team’s first non-Valanciunas points.

Oklahoma City then ripped off a 21-6 run to seize control for what proved to be the rest of the game. After the Thunder took a 13-point lead late in the first quarter, New Orleans never pulled closer than 8 in the second quarter and never was closer than 12 in the second half.

Outside of Valanciunas, who went 5-of-7 from the floor, New Orleans was just 3-of-14 from the field in the first quarter.

While Valanciunas made a big impact on the inside early, so did his Thunder counterpart, Holmgren.

The Oklahoma City rookie hit three three-pointers in the first six minutes, including one that put Oklahoma City ahead for good just after Jones’ trey.

Much of the Thunder’s early offensive production came thanks to strong defense, as Oklahoma City scored 8 first-quarter points off five Pelicans’ turnovers while not committing a turnover in the period.

“A lot of the turnovers were the illegal screens that they called,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “I’ve never seen that many illegal screens. But no excuses.”

The Thunder finished with 22 points off New Orleans’ 18 turnovers while the Pelicans scored just 6 points off Oklahoma City’s 9 giveaways.

Jalen Williams added 21 points, Luguentz Dort chipped in 15 and Josh Giddey had 13 for the Thunder.

With the Thunder leading by 34 with 3:29 remaining, Daigneault took out his starters to a large ovation. –

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