NBA: SGA-inspired OKC cruise to Game 2 win over Pelicans, lead playoffs series 2-0

NBA: SGA-inspired OKC cruise to Game 2 win over Pelicans, lead playoffs series 2-0

MVP candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander inspired the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 124-92 blowout win over the New Orleans Pelicans in Game 2 at Paycom Center on Wednesday night.

SGA led all scorers with a playoffs career-high 33 points, while also dishing out five assists, and hitting three 3s as OKC fully defended homecourt to go two up in their Western Conference first-round series against New Orleans.

“I think it just goes back to us prioritizing winning,” Shai said when asked about other top-seeded teams struggling at home. “And all those things are distractions that get in the way of winning. And every night, all 15 of us go to bed and want to win the next game, want to win the next day. And we do everything we can to do so.”

Rookie of the Year Award finalist Chet Holmgren improved on his playoff debut from Game 1 to finish with 26 points, seven rebounds, two blocks, and three 3s in a performance that showed the Thunder’s superiority. He set a new record in the game, as his 15 points in the first quarter were the most by a Thunder rookie in any quarter of a playoff game.

Jalen Williams poured in 21 points, 5 rebounds, and seven assists in a game that saw all the Thunder starters finish in double figures as Luguentz Dort and Josh Giddey combined for 28 points.

Meanwhile, most of New Orleans scoring came from an unlikely source, as Jonas Valanciunas led the side with 19 points and seven rebounds, while Herb Jones had 18 points and four 3s.

Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans’ second-leading scorer from the regular season, managed 18 points from just 10 attempted field goals, while CJ McCollum poured in 15 points as they continue to struggle offensively without former No. 1 pick Zion Williamson, who is still out with a left hamstring strain.

The series heads to New Orleans for Games 3 and 4, and Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault, who is also in the running for Coach of the Year Award, praised his side for their quick thinking in Game 2 and also urged his players to improve through the series as he expects a reaction from the Pelicans.

“In the first game, I thought both teams were kind of calibrating,” Daigneault said. “And, tonight we had much quicker recognition of the way that they were guarding us, where we wanted to attack, and we got to those things pretty well.”

“Now, the challenge is to continue to grow and learn and improve with the series because the Pelicans are going to improve,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “They’re a good team that’s going home and they’re well coached. They’re going to get better. You know so we have to continue to get better.”

Game 3 is slated for Saturday, April 27, at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center.

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