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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder take 3-0 series lead with 106-85 win over Pelicans

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 24 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans 106-85 on Saturday to take a 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Jalen Williams and Josh Giddey each scored 21 points for the Thunder, who escaped the opener with a two-point victory before posting victory margins of 32 in Game 2 and 21 in Game 3.

Top-seeded Oklahoma City made 17 of 36 (47.2%) from 3-point range and held a lead of 10 points or more throughout the second half, growing as many as 24 in the fourth quarter.

The eighth-seeded Pelicans, who were without star forward Zion Williamson during the series due to his hamstring injury, will try to avoid elimination at home in Game 4 Monday night. But even if they do, history is not on their side. No team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 series deficit.

Brandon Ingram scored 19 points and CJ McCollum had 16 for New Orleans, which struggled to hit from the perimeter and take care of the ball.

The Pelicans, who shot just 27.7 percent from 3-point range in the first two games of the series combined, improved only slightly on their return home, hitting 28.1 percent (9 of 32). New Orleans also turned the ball over 21 times, leading to 23 points for the Thunder.

The match started ominously for the Thunder when Williams took a forearm to the face from Ingram as he attempted a driving floater and fell to his hands and knees.

No foul was called in the collision, which sent Williams to the locker room for much of the first quarter before returning late in the period.

The game was competitive until the Thunder went on a 14-0 run in the second quarter, which gave Oklahoma City a 54-39 lead.

The buildup started with a 3 from Gilgeous-Alexander before Lu Dort connected on a three straight from deep.

After McCollum’s 3 cut the Pelicans’ deficit to 12, they had a chance to get closer in the final seconds of the half, but Gilgeous-Alexander stole the ball from McCollum and was fouled. mistake.

Gilgeous-Alexander hit two free throws to give the Thunder a 60-46 halftime lead.

Williams, who averaged about 20 points per game in the series, was back to his usual self in the second half, when he scored 13 of his points, including a pair of 3s during a 9-0 series to the end of the third quarter that gave the Thunder an 85-66 lead.

Associated Press reporting.

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