Shai Gilgeous-Alexander powers Thunder past Hornets

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 points to lead the host Oklahoma City Thunder to a 126-106 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday.

Gilgeous-Alexander took over the game early and the Thunder never relinquished the lead, winning for the seventh time in their past nine games.

Gilgeous-Alexander set up Josh Giddey for the first field goal of the game, then found Chet Holmgren for a 3-pointer on Oklahoma City’s second possession. Gilgeous-Alexander had a block and a steal on the Hornets’ next possession and it was quickly clear they were overmatched.

The Thunder led 39-19 after one quarter. Gilgeous-Alexander had 10 points, six assists, three steals, and two blocks.

The Hornets cut the deficit to 15 points in the second quarter before Oklahoma City pulled away again. The Thunder finished the half on an 11-2 run to take a 73-42 lead into the break.

Oklahoma City shot 69.2 percent from the floor in the first half and scored 36 points in the paint. Charlotte was held to 37.8 percent from the floor as Brandon Miller paced the Hornets with 13 points before halftime.

Gilgeous-Alexander continued to dominate after the break, scoring 13 points in the third quarter to reach the 30-point mark for the ninth consecutive game. He finished with nine assists, five steals, and tied his season high with three blocks.

The Thunder, who shot 58.7 percent from the floor in the game, led by 35 points early in the fourth before the Hornets closed the gap to 17 with less than three minutes remaining.

Holmgren had 16 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

The Hornets were without LaMelo Ball for the fourth consecutive game with right ankle soreness.

Oklahoma City’s Jalen Williams missed his second consecutive game with a right ankle sprain.

Miller led the Hornets, who have lost six straight games, with 28 points, while Bryce McGowens added 15.