NBA

Gilgeous-Alexander: Crucial win over Pelicans showed Thunder are battled-tested

By Sports Desk April 13, 2023

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander believes the Oklahoma City Thunder reaped the rewards of being "battle-tested" as they kept their season alive by beating the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Thunder, the youngest team in the NBA, ended the Pelicans' season with a 123-118 victory at Smoothie King Center on Wednesday.

Oklahoma City's win in the Western Conference play-in tournament ensure they will face a trip to play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, with a place in the NBA playoffs at stake.

A meeting with the number-one seeded Denver Nuggets will be the reward for the team that comes out on top in that showdown.

Gilgeous-Alexander stepped up to deliver 32 points, while Josh Giddey finished with 31 point, 10 assists and nine rebounds for Oklahoma City in that win over the Pelicans.

New Orleans led 69-62 early in the third quarter, but the Thunder stormed back and Gilgeous-Alexander felt the showed their strength of character. 

"We've been battle-tested. We've played in a lot of close games all year, for the past couple of years,” Gilgeous-Alexander said.

"Even when the season wasn't going our way, we played in a lot of close games and we have good habits and we know what gets it done down the stretch."

Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said: "Great 48-minute effort out of the team.

"Great poise. New Orleans made a couple of big runs at the end of the second and then the beginning of the fourth and I thought our guys just had a great temperament in the huddles and got back to our stuff.

"We weren't perfect tonight, but we got back to our habits and it was a great effort out of the team.

Brandon Ingram scored 30 points, 20 of which came in the second half, but the Pelicans were unable to stay in the hunt for the playoffs.

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