Gilgeous-Alexander scores 31 to lead Thunder past Doncic-less Mavericks 126-119

The Associated Press - March 16, 2024 1:48 pm

By CLIFF BRUNT AP Sports Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 31 points and nine rebounds to help the Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the short-handed Dallas Mavericks 126-119 on Thursday night.

Dallas guard Luka Doncic missed the game with a sore left hamstring. He left in the fourth quarter on Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors, ending his streak of consecutive triple-doubles at seven games. Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said before the game that an MRI on the NBA scoring leader’s injury turned up “clean,” meaning it likely will be a short-term issue. Kidd said Doncic will be re-evaluated when the team returns home.

Oklahoma City took advantage. Jalen Williams had 27 points in his return from a sprained right ankle that kept him out of Tuesday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers.

“He’s getting more comfortable every night,” Gilgeous-Alexander said of Williams. “He’s seeing different types of defenses. Kid works hard, and as he gets reps, he just continues to keep getting better. That’s what I expect.”

Williams excelled defensively, too. He had three blocks, including a highlight-reel swat of a shot by Kyrie Irving in the second quarter.

Josh Giddey added 18 points for the Thunder, who moved into a tie with the idle Denver Nuggets for the best record in the Western Conference at 46-20.

The Thunder used expert passing to bounce back from the loss to Indiana.

“I thought we really moved it,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “It was a good response to the Indiana game where I thought we, for whatever reason, we couldn’t establish a great rhythm in the game. And that’s the sort of thing we want to get back on track very quickly. We can’t control whether or not the ball goes in, but we can control how we play. And I thought offensively, how we played tonight had great integrity to it.”

Irving had 36 points and a season-high 12 assists, Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 23 points, and Daniel Gafford added 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Mavericks.

Gafford missed a putback attempt in the first minute of the game, ending his streak of consecutive made field goals at 33. He ended up two short of Wilt Chamberlain’s NBA record of 35.

“The streak is very impressive,” Kidd said. “When you’re talking about the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, not too many people are in that air.”

Irving had 20 points and eight assists in the first half, but the Thunder led 65-63 at the break. Oklahoma City led 95-87 at the end of the third quarter, then held on in the fourth. The Thunder shot 52.3% from the field.

The Mavericks need to win often as they try to avoid dropping into the play-in tournament. The urgency of the situation led Kidd to disagree with the officials at times.

“The NBA is all about — the best teams are going to compete at this time of year,” Kidd said. “Both teams are fighting for something. And so, I thought it was a competitive game. There’s going to be some missed calls, and that’s just part of the NBA. But you’ve got to play through it.”

UP NEXT

The Thunder visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.

 

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