NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 35 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the undermanned New Orleans Pelicans 110-96 on Saturday night for their fourth victory in five games.
Josh Giddey added 19 points and Jalen Williams had 17 for the Thunder, who led most of the way and by as many as 21 in the first half. Gilgeous-Alexander, who did not attempt a 3-pointer, hit 11 of 23 shots and made all 13 of his free throws.
Already struggling during All-Star power forward Zion Williamson’s extended injury absence, New Orleans also played without high-scoring wing Brandon Ingram, who entered the day listed as questionable after leaving a game Wednesday with a right ankle sprain.
CJ McCollum scored 26 points for the Pelicans, who entered the fourth quarter down by 15 and cut the Thunder’s lead to nine with more than five minutes remaining.
Thunder reserve Isaiah Joe’s third 3 of the game seemed to stunt New Orleans’ momentum. Soon after, Giddey’s 9-foot floater and Gilgeous-Alexander’s step-back jumper sealed the victory.
Naji Marshall and Trey Murphy III each scored 15 points for New Orleans, while Jaxson Hayes had 11 points and blocked two shots.
But the Pelicans were done in by turnovers. They committed 22, leading to 23 Thunder points. Gilgeous-Alexander had four steals.
By contrast, New Orleans turned 12 Thunder turnovers into just eight points.
The result pulled Oklahoma City even with New Orleans in the standings at 32-35. Both clubs sat just a half-game behind Utah (33-35) for 10th place and the final play-in spot in the Western Conference.
Thunder: Finished with an 18-10 advantage in fast-break points. … Shot 46.3% (37 of 80), including 9 of 28 from 3-point range. … Outscored New Orleans in the paint, 48-36. … Outscored the Pelicans 27-16 from the foul line.
Pelicans: Have a 9-21 record since Williamson went out with an injured right hamstring on Jan. 2. … Fell to 8-11 in games without both Williamson and Ingram. … Outrebounded the Thunder 43-38. … Shot 42% (34 of 81), including 12 of 34 from beyond the arc.
Thunder: Play at San Antonio on Sunday night.
Pelicans: Will host Portland on Sunday night.