Panzura postgame wrap: Thunder 108, Pelicans 100

Based on a combination of key injuries and recent G League assignments, New Orleans entered Wednesday’s game with only 11 available players. After a second-quarter ejection of Josh Hart for two technical fouls, that count was down to 10. Oklahoma City took full advantage, turning a tight score into a commanding second-half edge, then holding off a late New Orleans surge.

The Thunder went on a 16-0 run at one stage of the third quarter, building an 83-68 differential. They later went up 92-73 at 9:31, prior to the hosts mounting a rally.

After the game, Pelicans first-year head coach Willie Green was displeased with aspects of his team’s performance, including giving up points to Oklahoma City via a series of technical fouls in the second quarter.

“We have to keep our composure,” Green said of the techs. “Our margin for error is too small to do what we did tonight.”

Asked about his frustration level, Green added, “It’s this game. It’s not the losing streak. It’s not one quarter. It’s our approach to this game. There were moments in the game where we had guys on the floor who just didn’t compete hard enough for me. Hard enough for our team. And that’s a non-negotiable for me. That’s the deal. That’s who we are. As the leader of this team, I can’t have that. I can’t have guys on the floor if they’re not going to give 110 percent.”

IT WAS OVER WHEN…

Oklahoma City guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s hesitation drive and mid-range bucket put the visitors up 103-96 with 51 seconds left.

PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME

Nickeil Alexander-Walker powered New Orleans’ fourth-quarter run, scoring 22 points in that period alone, en route to his season-high 33 points. The third-year pro also registered his second double-double of 2021-22.

BY THE NUMBERS

5: New Orleans technical fouls in the second quarter, including the two that got Hart sent to the locker room, as well as one apiece on three other players. Devonte’ Graham picked up a T for tossing the ball into the basket stanchion; the others were for arguing with officials.

35, 25: New Orleans shooting percentages from the field and three-point range, respectively.

REVISITING FANDUEL KEYS TO THE GAME

INSIDE-OUT ATTACK

Jonas Valanciunas himself played inside-out, overpowering smaller OKC defenders, but also taking advantage of chances to fire and connect from three-point range. He is shooting 12/22 on three-pointers this season.

BENCH PRODUCTION

The Thunder backups made a significant impact in the second half, particularly Mike Muscala drilling threes during a third-quarter surge that stretched the margin to double digits.

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Gilgeous-Alexander and cousin Nickeil Alexander-Walker were quiet for much of the first half, but SGA helped OKC take over during its critical third-period surge, while NAW warmed up a bunch in the final minutes.

#WESTERNCONFERENCEWEDNESDAY

“Which West team has the biggest homecourt advantage?” That was the poll question Wednesday, with Golden State being the runaway winner at nearly two-thirds of votes. Despite being the NBA’s only unbeaten home club, Utah picked up 17 percent of ballots, exactly the same as Denver’s share. As @WildwoodHannah wrote of the Nuggets’ edge, “Denver because of the altitude.” Meanwhile @TheCarter picked Utah “because of their unruly degenerate fans.” Portland received just two percent of votes.

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