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Thunder Barely Escape in Game 1 Victory Over the Pelicans

Sunday’s Game Was a Close One With 20 Lead Changes Over the 4 Quarters

Thrilling G1

In NBA news, the OKC Thunder, No. 1 in the Western Conference and one of the league’s most surprising success stories this season eked out a 94-92 win over the No. 8 New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night.

 

Thunder Barely Escape in Game 1 Victory Over the Pelicans
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder - Cooper Neill/Getty Images/AFP

Thunderstruck

It was supposed to be another one of those fairly one-sided NBA games with the Oklahoma City Thunder installed as 9-point home favorites over their Western Conference rivals from New Orleans in Game 1 of the opening playoff series on Sunday night.

But NBA rumors had begun swirling that the Thunder, being the youngest No. 1 playoff seed since seeding started in 1984, might be too inexperienced to weather the postseason storms and could be susceptible to a more veteran-savvy team.


The Pelicans came to play in this Game 1 clash and entered the second half knotted at 43 apiece. Yet, a strong third-quarter performance in which the Thunder outscored the Pelicans, 31-25, gave the top seed barely enough breathing room to withstand a fourth-quarter rally by New Orleans that came up just short.

 

SGA Shines Again

Oklahoma City point guard, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s stats of 28 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists, contributed mightily to the Thunder’s victory but his clutch three-point play with only 32.5 seconds gave his team a lead they would never relinquish.

“Everybody that came in played their role,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “They gave good minutes. All 11 guys did their part, and that’s the reason why we won tonight.”


But this story could have had a much different ending had it not been for the defensive heroics of rookie Chet Holmgren. The 7’1” former No. 1 overall pick swatted away five shots and made a pivotal stop with under two minutes left in the game when he denied Pelicans’ veteran Larry Nance Jr. for his fifth block of the night.

“I was just trying to make a play,” Holmgren said. “I didn’t want to leave things in the hands of the other team, so I was trying to go up and make a play, whether I was going to be late and it was going to be a goaltend or not.”

 


The postseason has just begun but this young, inexperienced Thunder team will have to adjust to a different level of play as the second season progresses.

Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said after the game, “I just told the team, and I think it’s true, these series are long. You have to improve through the series, and that’s our challenge now. We got to watch the film, learn from it, and be a better team on Wednesday than we were tonight.”

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