Thunder comeback falls short in New Orleans

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder comeback fell just short in a 105-101 loss against the New Orleans Pelicans on the road. It was an ugly game the entire way, but the Thunder still found a way to get back in it and put itself in a position to win late.

A couple of teams came into the year with vastly different expectations, but both with exciting young cores faced off Monday night in New Orleans. Both squads entered the night hoping to get back on track, with the Thunder coming off a loss in Houston and the Pelicans losing their last contest in Memphis.

The OKC Thunder fell to the New Orleans Pelicans after attempting a comeback in a dramatic fourth quarter

The Thunder grabbed an eight-point lead early in the first quarter, but New Orleans responded with a 10-0 run to take the lead about halfway through the quarter. The rest of the quarter saw a couple of lead changes before the Pelicans pulled ahead 34-26. Each of the Thunder’s five starters scored in the first quarter. However, the Thunder bench didn’t score a single point.

While the OKC bench struggled in the first quarter, it was responsible for the first 14 Thunder points in the second quarter and helped cut into the lead with its effort going after loose balls. For the most part, both offenses sputtered in the second quarter resulting in a 56-50 halftime lead for New Orleans. Even with a subpar half shooting the ball, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was still the game’s leading scorer with 11 points.

SGA began the third quarter trying to take over by scoring the Thunder’s first eight points out of halftime. Unfortunately for the Thunder, that stretch took over six minutes and allowed the Pelicans to open up a double-digit lead. Even with all of the Thunder’s offensive struggles, the team managed to shift momentum towards the end of the third and trailed by just seven going to the fourth.

OKC kept it tight throughout the final period and eventually made it a one-possession with just under five minutes left after a Gilgeous-Alexander three. The Thunder then took their first lead since the first quarter courtesy of some SGA free throws with just over a minute to go. Chaos ensued.

Trey Murphy immediately put the Pelicans back on top with a three before Jeremiah Robinson-Earl nailed one on the other end. An and-one from Pelicans’ leading scorer Zion Williamson put the Pelicans back up 103-101 with 44 seconds left.

A Williamson missed three with just a few seconds to go allowed OKC to run in transition down by two but ended with a Gilgeous-Alexander offensive foul that effectively ended the game.

These are the games where good teams find a way to win. The Thunder are not quite there yet, but that’s okay. It was another gritty effort on a night where the team struggled offensively and still gave itself a chance to win the game in the closing seconds.

OKC will look to end the losing skid at two when it welcomes the San Antonio Spurs to the Paycom Center on Wednesday night.

dark. Next. 3 things OKC Thunder fans should be grateful for