Danilo Gallinari's 23 Leads Thunder to 107-104 Road Win vs. Lonzo Ball, Pelicans

Megan ArmstrongAnalyst IIIDecember 2, 2019

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 1: Steven Adams #12 of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans on December 1, 2019 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images)
Layne Murdoch Jr./Getty Images

The Oklahoma City Thunder outlasted the New Orleans Pelicans 107-104 Sunday evening at the Smoothie King Center.

The Thunder have beaten the Pelicans in all three of their meetings this season and twice this weekend, as Oklahoma City topped New Orleans 109-104 Friday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Oklahoma City jumped out to an early 14-point lead in the first quarter, but the Pelicans recovered to make it a back-and-forth affair down the stretch. Steven Adams scored seven of the Thunder's 10 points in the last three minutes of regulation to secure the victory.

Five of Adams' points came at the free-throw line despite entering the game as a 40 percent shooter from there.

For all the success the Thunder have had against the Pelicans this season, they're still just 8-11 overall.

New Orleans, meanwhile, dropped to 6-14 and has now lost five consecutive contests.

     

Notable Stats

OKC F Danilo Gallinari: 23 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists

OKC C Steven Adams: 17 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks

OKC G Chris Paul: 16 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists

OKC G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 17 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal

OKC G Dennis Schroder: 17 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal

NO G Jrue Holiday: 26 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists

NO F Brandon Ingram: 20 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks

NO G Lonzo Ball: 14 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 block

NO G JJ Redick: 13 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal

     

Lonzo Ball Solid Down the Stretch in Return to Pelicans' Starting Lineup

This game marked Ball's return to the floor after sitting out the Pelicans' last two games with an illness. More significantly, it was the 2017 second overall pick's first start since Nov. 8, as New Orleans had been using Ball from the bench prior to his getting sick.

Ball has now started nine of the Pelicans' 20 games.

The 22-year-old point guard looked a bit rusty through the first three quarters against the Thunder, while Jrue Holiday led the Pelicans' backcourt efforts.

However, Ball did show flashes of his playmaking ability:

Once the fourth quarter arrived, Ball had found his groove. With 7:47 left in regulation, Ball's third three of the evening gave the Pelicans an 89-86 lead:

Ball then grabbed a defensive rebound and assisted a Josh Hart layup before draining another three to keep New Orleans ahead 94-89.

Brandon Ingram assisted both of Ball's fourth-quarter threes, giving a glimpse into what the Pelicans imagined when landing both players in exchange for sending Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers over the summer.

Unfortunately, as has been the case for the Pelicans more often than not in 2019, the game slipped away from them in the final minutes. New Orleans has lost its last three games by a combined 12 points, per ESPN's Andrew Lopez.

The Pelicans have been inhibited, too, by rookie top overall pick Zion Williamson yet to debut while he recovers from knee surgery on a torn right lateral meniscus. Despite yet another loss, getting Ball back into the starting lineup with Holiday and Ingram is a positive step toward flooring a cohesive group once Williamson is ready to play.

     

What's Next?

The Pelicans will host the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

The Thunder will travel back home to Oklahoma City and host the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.

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