EditorsNote: Several small changes throughout
Dennis Schroder scored 25 points off the bench as the host Oklahoma City Thunder recorded a 109-104 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.
Chris Paul sank the go-ahead jumper with 1:24 left in the fourth quarter, and Steven Adams added a tip-in to stake Oklahoma City to a 107-104 lead. Adams capped the scoring by muscling up a left-handed dunk with 15.1 seconds remaining.
Abdel Nader scored 19 points and Danilo Gallinari added 17 for the Thunder, who will vie for a sweep of the home-and-home series when the teams reconvene in New Orleans on Sunday.
Brandon Ingram finished with 26 points after shooting 11 of 17 from the floor, a stark contrast to his 4-of-21 performance in the Pelicans’ 114-110 setback to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
JJ Redick had 16 points despite making only 4-of-13 attempts from 3-point range for the Pelicans, who have dropped four in a row.
New Orleans’ Lonzo Ball sat out his second straight game with an illness, while fellow guard Kenrich Williams sustained a sprained left ankle in the first half and did not return to the contest.
The Pelicans followed up a 14-8 surge to end the second quarter by beginning the third on a 17-7 run to secure their first lead of the contest at 70-69 with 7:01 left in the quarter. New Orleans outscored the Thunder 31-17 in the third quarter to take an 84-79 advantage into the fourth.
Josh Hart and E’Twaun Moore each sank a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to push New Orleans’ lead to 92-84, only to see Schroder hit a layup and a pullup jumper on back-to-back possessions to highlight a 10-1 run that enabled Oklahoma City to regain the advantage.
Adams opened the game with a flourish, scoring 10 of Oklahoma City’s first 13 points to stake the club to an early seven-point lead. The Thunder continued to work the interior before Gallinari and Darius Bazley each drained a 3-pointer as the club shot 58.3 percent to take a 34-26 lead after the first quarter.
Oklahoma City did not step off the gas, as Nader had a 3-pointer with a dunk before Bazley followed with a layup to boost its lead to 54-38.
—Field Level Media