The Oklahoma City Thunder began the first of a quick two-game road trip in New Orleans against the Pelicans. OKC brought the Western Conference’s best record into tonight’s showdown. However, MVP candidate Anthony Davis willed the Pelicans to a 118-114 victory over the Thunder and finished with 44 points and 18 rebounds. It was a back-and-forth battle that saw lead changes, high-level offense and tenacious defensive plays.
Oklahoma City trailed 116-109 with one minute remaining in the game, but then OKC’s scrappy defense took over. The Thunder’s crisp rotations opened the door for Russell Westbrook to get back-to-back steals, which led to a breakaway layup for Russ and a layup plus the foul for Paul George. George converted the three point play and the Thunder pulled to within two.
OKC forced Davis into a tough jumper on the following possession and the Thunder pulled down the rebound with a chance to tie the game. George’s inbound pass was deflected out of the timeout, which led to a broken possession that ended with a contested three from Russ. The Pelicans controlled the rebound and the Thunder were forced to foul Julius Randle.
The Pelicans led 116-114 with 10 seconds remaining. Randle stepped to the line, missed both free throws and the Thunder still had a chance to tie or win the game. OKC put the ball into the hands of Westbrook, he had a chance to attack the basket, but Davis was awaiting at the rim. Russ did attack, he drew the defense in and kicked it out to Alex Abrines. Abrines had a good look but he was not able to knock it down. Solomon Hill got the rebound and sealed the game at the free throw line.
The Thunder shot 48% from the field, and also shot a season-high 43 threes. They also shot just 17-27 from the free throw line. The Pelicans controlled the glass (56-39) and dominated the paint (74-48). The Pelicans also had a big advantage in offensive boards, grabbing 17.
George led the Thunder with 25 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Dennis Schroder put in 24 points off the bench. Westbrook scored 20 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished seven assists. Steven Adams chipped in 20 points and six rebounds.
Davis had a monster night, finishing with 44 points and 18 rebounds. Randle also had a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Jrue Holiday finished with 20 points and 10 assists.