OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored a career-high 42 points and Lu Dort hit a 3-pointer as time expired to give the Oklahoma City Thunder a 102-99 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.
San Antonio turned the ball over with 3.9 seconds remaining, giving Oklahoma City the ball with the score tied. Dort’s corner 3-pointer dropped as the buzzer sounded, and his teammates mobbed him.
Dort, known mostly for his defense as a rookie last season, has improved as a perimeter shooter this season. He made three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter against the Spurs.
”Lu’s changed it around, obviously, changed the narrative,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. ”It’s just him working hard, not getting down on himself, being confident. When you work hard, confidence comes with it because you believe in yourself.”
Gilgeous-Alexander became the first Thunder player to score at least 40 points in a game since Russell Westbrook had 42 on March 20, 2019. He made 13 of 20 field goals, 10 of 11 free throws and shot 6 of 11 on 3s.
Gilgeous-Alexander was one of the NBA’s highest-scoring players to be left off the All-Star rosters, but he said there was ”no extra push or anything like that” to score a lot of points and make a statement about being snubbed.
”I wouldn’t have known how much I had if my teammates weren’t telling me,” he said. ”I was so locked into the game, honestly, just trying to win. Big nights are huge, but personally, if we didn’t win tonight, I wouldn’t feel close to what I feel right now.”
Dort and Al Horford each scored 16 points for the Thunder.
Dejounte Murray had 27 points and Patty Mills added 15 for the Spurs.
San Antonio hadn’t played since Feb. 14 because of health and safety protocols, and the Spurs were still depleted. DeMar DeRozan, the team’s leading scorer, sat out for personal reasons. Rudy Gay, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Quinnary Witherspoon and Derrick White were out because of health and safety protocols.
Gilgeous-Alexander took over in the third quarter. He hit a 3-pointer while being fouled, and his free throw cut San Antonio’s lead to 53-51. He later drained a 3 to tie the game at 65.
His layup as time expired in the third put Oklahoma City up 76-73. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 21 points in the period on 5-for-5 shooting from the field and 8 for 9 at the free throw line.
”I just wanted to be aggressive, try to put the defense on their heels, and from there, make the right play,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. ”Oftentimes, I found myself in position to score in that quarter.”
Horford’s 3-pointer on an assist from Gilgeous-Alexander put the Thunder up 87-86 with about seven minutes remaining, and the game remained close from there.
Spurs: LaMarcus Aldridge returned after missing six games due to hip soreness. He had 11 points and seven rebounds. … San Antonio went 5 of 10 on 3-pointers in the second quarter. … The Spurs made 10 of 15 free throws.
Thunder: Made six 3-pointers in the first quarter while holding the Spurs to one. San Antonio didn’t make one until the final minute of the period. … Missed all seven of their 3-point tries in the second quarter. … Hamidou Diallo did not play in the second half because of left groin soreness.
Aldridge came off the bench for the first time since the 2006-07 season – his rookie year. He’s not sure if the move is permanent.
”It was fine,” he said. ”Very different. Still trying to figure it out, how to be ready to go. It’s definitely a different task coming off the bench, having very few minutes to get loose and kind of find a rhythm. I’m still figuring it out. It wasn’t perfect tonight, and I don’t think it’s going to be perfect for a while. It’s going to take some time for me to figure it out.”
Thunder forward Darius Bazley missed all eight of his shots from the floor and went scoreless, but had 10 rebounds in 30 minutes.
The Spurs host the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
The Thunder host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.
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