Murphy scores 23, Pelicans beat Thunder in OT without Zion
By MURRAY EVANS
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Trey Murphy III scored 23 points and the New Orleans Pelicans overcame the absence of leading scorer Zion Williamson and a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 128-125 in overtime on Friday night.
Murphy and CJ McCollum each hit a 3-pointer in the first two minutes of overtime to stake the Pelicans to a four-point lead, and Oklahoma City never recovered.
"This is a relentless group," New Orleans coach Willie Green said. "We couldn't be more proud of what they're doing. ... Tonight was a tough back-to-back, but we just gutted it out. Sometimes you have to do that in this league.
"It's truly a blessing to have guys bought in to what we're trying to accomplish. We continue to tell them to stay ready and keep working and their opportunity will come."
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored a career-high 44 points to go with 10 rebounds and six assists for Oklahoma City, which had a three-game winning streak end.
The Thunder had a chance while trailing 128-125 when McCollum turned the ball over on an inbounds play with 8.7 seconds left, but they missed a pair of 2-point shots.
New Orleans' Jaxson Hayes, who scored 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting, missed two free throws with 2.7 seconds left. On the second, the rebound caromed toward midcourt, where Gilgeous-Alexander corralled it. His 40-foot 3-point attempt banged off the rim as time expired.
"I thought we did a great job of putting ourselves in position," Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said. "The first half, we were completely out of rhythm, with not a lot of energy. I thought we came out at halftime and ... hung in there and stuck with it and got on a nice run. We worked to get control of the game. I thought they just out-executed us in the fourth quarter at both ends of the floor - coaches, players, everything."
Naji Marshall and McCollum each scored 17 points for the Pelicans, who have followed a four-game skid with wins on back-to-back nights. Williamson also sat out Thursday's win over San Antonio due to health and safety protocols.
During the third quarter, Oklahoma City steadily cut what had been a 21-point second-quarter deficit and the Thunder tied the game at 80-80 on a 3-pointer by Tre Mann with 11:38 left in the game. That was part of a 12-3 run to open the fourth quarter, which put the Thunder ahead 89-83.
Oklahoma City led 105-96 after two free throws by Gilgeous-Alexander with 4:53 left, but didn't have a field goal during the final 2:57 of regulation, allowing New Orleans to rally. Herbert Jones' basket with 25.4 seconds left tied the game at 112-all. Mann missed on a driving layup attempt in the final seconds.
"We just picked up our energy and our defensive effort (in the final minutes)," Green said. "They came out in the second half and they were playing with more force and more pace. I thought the last 4-5 minutes of (regulation), we did a better job of trying to take the ball out of (Gilgeous-Alexander's) hands."
After going 2 of 15 from 3-point range in the first half, the Thunder finished 13 of 35 from behind the arc. New Orleans finished 13 of 37 from 3-point range.
New Orleans went 8 of 21 from 3-point range in the first half and led by as many as 21 points after trailing by six early. The Pelicans were up 64-46 at halftime.
Pelicans: In addition to Williamson, New Orleans was without starter Larry Nance Jr., who missed a second straight game due to right Achilles soreness. ... McCollum, a game-time decision to play due to right calf soreness, started and played 36 minutes. ... Jones scored 15 points.
Thunder: Gilgeous-Alexander, who entered the game leading the NBA in free-throw shooting at 93%, missed both ends of a two-shot opportunity in the second quarter. ... Josh Giddey had 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists while Aleksej Pokusevski added 17 points. ... The Thunder recalled Mann and Jaylin Williams from the Oklahoma City Blue of the G League.
Pelicans: Host Indiana on Monday.
Thunder: Host San Antonio on Tuesday.
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Updated December 24, 2022