Gilgeous-Alexander scores 31 points to help Thunder rout Pelicans
Chet Holmgren added 20 points and 13 rebounds to help the Thunder win their fourth straight on the road.
On Thursday, Gilgeous-Alexander was voted a Western Conference starter for the All-Star Game.
“It’s an honor, it’s a blessing,” he said. “Obviously, there’s so many talented players in the NBA, so many talented guards, especially in the West. To be voted first by my peers, who do the same job as me, is a really good feeling.”
Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said the consistency he has seen in Gilgeous-Alexander’s play might be the most impressive attribute of his All-Star season.
“He does it inside the team,” Daigneault said. “His success also impacts the team and somehow creates space for other guys to elevate and improve and other guys to rock out a little bit. He’s able to balance high ambition and high production with creating the level of space he does for the rest of the team. That, to me, is the most impressive thing. He’s a great player. ”
Playing without Zion Williamson because of a bone bruise in his left foot, the Pelicans shot just 39% three days after setting a franchise record for points in a 153-124 victory over Utah. After making 23 3-pointers on Tuesday, New Orleans was held to 9-of-36 shooting against the Thunder en route to a season-low 83 points.
“We did a great job defensively, obviously, and it was pretty consistent throughout the game,” Daigneault said. “We were able to sustain a really high level defensively throughout. There wasn’t much that they got that was easy.”
Oklahoma City also shot poorly from deep (10 of 33), but the Thunder went 13 of 14 from the foul line and forced 16 New Orleans turnovers. The Thunder missed 16 of their first 24 shots, but they made 34 of 64 over the final three quarters.
“The sign of a mature team is the ability to sustain intelligent offense and high-level intensity on defense, regardless of the ball going in,” Daigneault said.
The 70-point drop-off from the record output Tuesday ate at Pelicans coach Willie Green, who blamed his team’s collapse on not being able to take care of the basketball.
“Some of (the turnovers) were just unforced,” Green said. “Being active and getting turnovers is what (the Thunder) do well, but after we work on it and work on it and our team comes out and doesn’t execute the way we can, it’s deflating. It starts with the turnovers.”
McCollum, who had four turnovers, agreed.
“The way we played two games ago was different,” McCollum said. “Zion had the ball out and pushed the tempo. We played through him a lot, but he (didn’t) play tonight. It (was) just a different game, and we need to be better. We didn’t play well and turned the ball over.”
Williamson went through pregame warmups but was held out as a precaution. Green said his status would be updated before Saturday night’s game against the Bucks.
Thunder: At Detroit on Sunday.
Pelicans: At Milwaukee on Saturday night.
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba