Home NBA The Thunder Surges Pass The Pelicans To Take A 2-0 Lead

The Thunder Surges Pass The Pelicans To Take A 2-0 Lead

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Courtesy Of Oklahoma Thunder Communications

Oklahoma City—In Oklahoma City, the Thunder’s playoff narrative has swiftly transformed. Once viewed as novices navigating postseason waters, they’ve now assumed the guise of seasoned contenders.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s commanding 33-point performance led the top-seeded Thunder to a resounding 124-92 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, securing a commanding 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference first-round playoff matchup.

Gilgeous-Alexander attributed their success to unwavering focus, eschewing external distractions such as the struggles of other high-seeded teams. “It just goes back to us prioritizing winning,” he remarked. “And all those things are distractions that get in the way of winning.”

Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams complemented Gilgeous-Alexander’s brilliance, notching 26 and 21 points, respectively. The Thunder’s offensive prowess, shooting an impressive 59% from the hardwood and draining 14 of 29 attempts from downtown, underscored their dominance.

Meanwhile, the Pelicans, sans top scorer Zion Williamson due to a strained hamstring, faltered on offense. Brandon Ingram, their second-highest scorer, struggled to find his rhythm amidst relentless defensive pressure from Lu Dort.

Despite a valiant effort from Jonas Valanciunas, who contributed 19 points, the Pelicans found themselves outmatched. Game 3 beckons in New Orleans, where the Thunder anticipate an even fiercer challenge.

Thunder coach Mark Daigneault emphasized the need for continual improvement, acknowledging the Pelicans’ resilience. “Now, the challenge is to continue to grow and learn and improve with the series because the Pelicans are going to improve,” he affirmed.

The Thunder’s offensive tempo, markedly accelerated from their narrow Game 1 victory, showcased their comfort with a faster-paced game. “In the first game, I thought both teams were kind of calibrating,” Daigneault reflected. “Tonight we had much quicker recognition of the way that they were guarding us.”

A commanding lead established early on, with Holmgren and Gilgeous-Alexander spearheading the charge, allowed the Thunder to dictate the game’s tempo. By halftime, they had amassed a formidable 63-50 lead.

The third quarter saw the Thunder’s lead burgeon to 92-74, prompting Gilgeous-Alexander and Holmgren to retire to the bench, their mission accomplished.

Despite the setback, Pelicans coach Willie Green acknowledged the Thunder’s dominance. “It was a dominant win for them,” he conceded, vowing to regroup for the challenges ahead.