OKC Thunder come out flat, fall to shorthanded Pelicans

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

The Oklahoma City Thunder came into the contest on Monday feeling good, the New Orleans Pelicans were shorthanded, playing without CJ McCollum and Zion Williamson, and the OKC Thunder were riding the momentum of the week.

Fresh off massive road wins against the Lakers and Trailblazers, the OKC Thunder entered Monday night in possession of the final NBA Play-in tournament spot, and with just two games before an eventful NBA All-Star break which features Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as an All-Star, Jalen Williams and Josh Giddey each tabbed as rising stars to give OKC a trio of representatives at the festivities.

The contest started out flat in this game, lacking energy and resistance on the defensive end. The Pelicans saw Brandon Ingram blitz the nets for 34 points on 24 shot attempts, with four rebounds and an assist. In 32 minutes of action, Ingram was unguardable. Despite the best efforts from Lu Dort, the Thunder just had to shake their head at his excellent shot-making.

OKC Thunder comes out flat, rallies from down 20, then come up short to the New Orleans Pelicans.

While Shai Gilgeous-Alexander still labored his way to 24 points, he shot an uncharacteristic 8-for-21 while only going to the free throw line nine times and 0-for-2 from beyond the arc. Gilgeous-Alexander still made an impact on the glass, hauling in ten boards while swiping a steal and dishing out five assists.

Josh Giddey struggled a bit, scoring 17 points on 16 shots, but did grab seven rebounds, give out four assists, and earn a steal which set up the play of the game a fastbreak dunk by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander set up by a fabulous pass by Jalen Williams.

The rookie, Jalen Williams, was the best player on the floor for OKC, scoring 22 points, swatting a shot, picking up two steals, handing out four assists, and soaring up for seven rebounds. Williams shot 9-for-15 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from three-point land, which featured a James Harden-like stepback.

The Thunder found themselves down 20 in the blink of an eye before battling back to have a shot to tie the game and send this tilt to overtime at the buzzer.

Isaiah Joe got the difficult look that the Pelicans forced by playing elite ATO defense, but it did not fall. Joe finished 4-for-11 from distance on his way to 16 points.

This was a tough loss for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who now sits a half-game back of the play-in tournament after having a shot to tie the Pelicans for the seventh seed in this game, and need to refocus quickly. In terms of their play-in pursuit, which is not the end all be all of their season, the game against Houston on Wednesday before the All-Star break represents a near must-win.

How will this season play out post-All-Star break? It remains a mystery.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander wins player of the week. dark. Next