Thursday, March 30, 2023
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NBA Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder (31-35) at New Orleans Pelicans (32-34)

The New Orleans Pelicans and the Oklahoma City Thunder are fighting to get into the Western Gathering play-in competition as they meet Saturday night in New Orleans.

The Pelicans and Lakers were tied for ninth place going into Friday’s game, but the Thunder and Blazers were just a half-game behind the Jazz, who were in 11th place.

After missing OKC’s most lopsided loss of the season, 132-101 at Phoenix on Wednesday, All-Star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is expected to return for abdominal strain injury maintenance.

After leaving Wednesday’s home game against Dallas with a sprained ankle, forward Brandon Ingram, the team’s second-leading scorer, was listed as questionable by coach Willie Green on Friday.

CJ McCollum scored 16 of his game-high 32 points in the fourth quarter as the Pelicans prevailed over the Mavericks 113-106 in spite of the absence of Ingram.

After eight games, this was only the Pelicans’ second victory. Green stated that the team’s priority is to “control the controllable” as leading scorer Zion Williamson remains out for the foreseeable future due to a hamstring injury.

The Thunder couldn’t contain Devin Booker of the Suns on Wednesday as he scored 30 of his 44 places in the main half and completed 17 of 23 from the field, remembering 6 of 10 for 3-pointers.

In any case, that exhibition came one night after the Champions’ Stephen Curry scored 40 focuses against the Thunder, who won.

OKC was helped by Lindy Waters, who came off the bench and scored a season-high 23 points. However, the Thunder starters only scored 31 points and shot 9 of 39 from the floor.

The disparity in overall floor shooting was a major contributor to the lopsided defeat. The Thunder made 34.9 percent of their 3-point attempts and 37.5% of their field goals. The Suns made 46.5 percent of their 3-point attempts and shot 52.1% from the floor.

Oklahoma City and New Orleans are attempting to win the entire season series. In New Orleans on Nov. 28, the Pelicans defeated the Thunder 105-101, and in Oklahoma City, they defeated the Thunder twice: 128-125 in overtime on Dec. 23, and 103-100 on Feb. 13.

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