OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The New Orleans Pelicans were inconsistent with their outside shooting, so they leaned on rebounding to rally against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
CJ McCollum had 29 points and 11 rebounds, and the Pelicans overcame a 22-point deficit to defeat the Thunder 110-106 on Wednesday night.
New Orleans scored 27 points on 22 offensive rebounds to make up for 13-of-42 shooting from 3-point range. The Pelicans won despite missing leading scorer Brandon Ingram, who was out with right knee soreness. They bounced back from a 130-102 loss to Golden State on Monday.
“Just challenging our group that we can be better,” New Orleans coach Willie Green said. “We know it. And we got to dig down and carve out wins sometimes, especially with guys being out. Rebounding is a big factor for us. When we offensive rebound, it gives us extra looks. Right now, our offense needs it.”
McCollum led by example and set the tone, Green said.
“He really just trusted his teammates,” Green said. “He trusted in the offense. He was sound defensively, he had 11 rebounds. Our team responded, and that’s what it takes.”
Zion Williamson added 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for the Pelicans, who improved to 3-1.
Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 20 points, but he missed a 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds remaining that would have given the Thunder the lead. Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said Gilgeous-Alexander slightly hyperextended his left knee during the game, but he played through it and was fine.
Chet Holmgren added 19 points and 11 rebounds and Jalen Williams added 18 points for the Thunder, who made just 7 for 34 3-pointers.
Holmgren said the Pelicans worked for their boards.
“They really put a lot of effort into it,” he said. “That’s the biggest key with coming away with offensive rebounds. If you don’t put the effort in, you’re not going to get them.”
Josh Giddey scored 10 points in the first 6:20 of the game. The Thunder led 33-14 after one quarter as the Pelicans made just 1 of 12 3-pointers.
“In the first quarter, I thought they missed a couple of shots,” Daigneault said. “We had a really good team rhythm going. I thought we did a good job defending as well. We made them go to kind of plan B, so to speak.”
Giddey got the crowd going in the second with a pass from beyond the 3-point line to Ousmane Dieng for a dunk that gave the Thunder a 39-20 advantage. Oklahoma City eventually pushed the lead to 47-25.
New Orleans started shooting better and cut into the deficit, but the Thunder still led 51-43 at the break.
“We did a good job early of really stopping the ball and not letting it find the shooters,” Holmgren said. “And in the second quarter, they were able to do that. They found the shooters and they were knocking down threes. And the threes run the score up real quick.”
The Pelicans started the second half hot, and Jonas Valanciunas hit a 3-pointer to put New Orleans ahead 59-58. The Pelicans took a 78-77 lead into the fourth quarter.
New Orleans went on a 14-4 run to go up 92-81 before Oklahoma City rallied to make it close at the end.
Pelicans: Host the Detroit Pistons on Thursday.
Thunder: Host the Golden State Warriors on Friday.
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