OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder kept battling.
Dennis Schroder scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and had seven assists to help the Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans 109-104 on Friday night.
Abdel Nader scored 19 points and Danilo Gallinari had 17 for Oklahoma City, which had been 1-4 in its previous five games. Steven Adams added 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Thunder, including the final four points in the last minute.
After losing their first seven games decided by five points or less, the Thunder have won two in a row.
“I thought it was a really good team win, just because a lot of guys stepped up and contributed,” Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan said. “We did a fairly good job of closing the game out. I thought top to bottom, everybody that was out there really contributed in a big way.”
Brandon Ingram had 26 points and eight rebounds to lead New Orleans. J.J. Redick added 16 points for the Pelicans but missed two 3-point attempts in the final 11 seconds. New Orleans, which trailed by as much as 16 midway through the second quarter and by nine at halftime, had seven players score in double digits.
“We got back into the game simply because we were moving the basketball and moving ourselves,” said New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry. “We’ve just got to get to a point where we’re doing it for 48 minutes, not 45 and not 47. We’ve got to do that all the way until the end of the game.”
The Thunder led until midway through the third quarter when New Orleans jumped on top with a 13-1 run. After the Pelicans pushed their lead to a game-high eight points at 92-84 on E’Twaun Moore’s 3-pointer with 9:53 remaining, the Thunder responded with a 13-1 run to regain the edge.
The teams exchanged leads three times down the stretch until New Orleans went ahead 104-103 with 2:48 left on Ingram’s layup, but the Thunder scored the next six points. Chris Paul sank a short jumper with 1:24 to go, then Adams knocked home a rebound with 53.7 seconds left and put it away with an authoritative dunk with 15.1 seconds on the clock. The Pelicans missed their last six shots of the game.
“The energy was amazing. It was just probably our best team win of the year,” Paul said. “The biggest thing is that we never gave up and we closed out the game on defense. And I think once we continue to figure out that our defense can win more games for us than our offense, we’ll be fine.”
New Orleans: Kenrich Williams left after rolling his left ankle midway through the first quarter. Williams went down on the play and stayed down for a couple of minutes before being helped off the court. ... Ingram scored 12 points in the first quarter, zero in the second, 10 in the third and four in the fourth. He has not scored fewer than 21 points over his last nine games, dating back to a seven-point effort the last time these teams met, a 115-104 Thunder victory on Nov. 2.
Oklahoma City: Paul entered averaging 16.2 points per game, but had just seven, on 3-of-9 shooting, including the basket that gave the Thunder the lead for good with 1:24 to go. He also had six assists and five rebounds. It was the fourth time this season Paul scored in single digits. ... Shai Gilgeous-Alexander entered averaging 18.8 points per game, but had just two at halftime and ended up with 10 points, his lowest output of the season. ... Adams scored 10 points in the game’s opening 2:16, then was blanked until his clutch buckets in the final minute.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
“We had an opportunity to win it at the end,” Gentry said. “But we have to do a better job all together. Defensively, we had a few missed assignments at the end that cost us big… We’ve just got to be able to execute things at the end of the game defensively and offensively.”
The Pelicans return home on Sunday to take on Oklahoma City again, completing a home-and-home set.