Defense lifts Thunder to streak-extending win over Pelicans

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 points and the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder won their fifth consecutive game by shutting down the New Orleans Pelicans 107-83 on Friday night.

Chet Holmgren added 20 points and 13 rebounds and Jalen Williams amassed 15 points and seven assists as the Thunder won for the ninth time in 11 games and evened the season series against the Pelicans 1-1.

Herbert Jones and Jonas Valanciunas scored 14 points each and Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum added 12 each for New Orleans, which played without leading scorer Zion Williamson (left foot bone contusion). The Pelicans have alternated wins and losses over their past eight games.

The Pelicans committed 20 turnovers, leading to 22 points for the Thunder. New Orleans shot just 25 percent and Oklahoma City 30.3 percent on 3-pointers, but the Thunder had a 47.7 percent-39 percent advantage in field-goal shooting.

Oklahoma City scored the first four points of the third quarter to take a 54-41 lead, and the Thunder led by 13 points on two more occasions before New Orleans made a push.

Jones and McCollum each made a 3-pointer to help the Pelicans close within 58-52.

Gilgeous-Alexander scored five pints and Kenrich Williams had four as the Thunder built the lead to 15 points before taking a 77-64 edge into the fourth quarter.

New Orleans scored the first four points of the final period, but Oklahoma City quickly rebuilt the lead to 84-68 and coasted the rest of the way.

The Pelicans scored a franchise-record 153 points in their previous game and the Thunder scored 140 in their previous game, but it was the defenses that set the tone from the beginning on Friday.

The score was tied four times and the lead changed hands a fifth time when Jordan Hawkins’ 3-pointer gave New Orleans a 24-22 lead at the end of the first quarter.

There were three ties early in the second quarter before Holmgren scored five points to help Oklahoma City open a 38-32 lead.

The Pelicans closed within two on an Ingram jumper, but Gilgeous-Alexander scored six points down the stretch to help the Thunder take a 50-41 halftime lead.