Gilgeous-Alexander has 29 points to help Thunder roll past Mavericks in Game 1 of West semifinals

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) works the floor against Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series, Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) works the floor against Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series, Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in Oklahoma City. AP Photo

OKLAHOMA CITY — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was his usual self and Luka Doncic wasn't.

Gilgeous-Alexander had 29 points, nine rebounds and nine assists to help the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Dallas Mavericks 117-95 on Tuesday night in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

Gilgeous-Alexander made 8 of 19 field goals and 11 of 13 free throws before coming out of the game with 3:26 remaining and the Thunder leading 111-89.

Doncic, an MVP finalist like Gilgeous-Alexander, scored 19 points on 6-for-19 shooting and had five turnovers. He bristled when asked about his shooting.

“Who cares,” he said. “We lost. We just got to move onto the next one. We’ve got to be better.”

Lu Dort got most of the work guarding Doncic, with rookie Cason Wallace getting some of the action and 7-foot-1 center Holmgren pestering him near the rim.

Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said Dort, one of the league's best perimeter defenders did his job.

“He’s just a warrior,” Daigneault said. “Brings the juice every single night. Doncic is a really hard matchup and a great player that didn’t have his best pitch tonight. He’s going to play better than this. Lu made it hard on him. I thought our team made it hard on him.”

Holmgren added 19 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Jalen Williams struggled with his shot for three quarters but scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth to help Oklahoma City remain unbeaten in the playoffs.

Kyrie Irving scored 20 points and Daniel Gafford added 16 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks for the fifth-seeded Mavericks.

Game 2 will be Thursday night in Oklahoma City. Daigneault is aware that the Mavericks stole home court from the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 2 of their first-round series. Dallas went on to win that series 4-2.

“I think we can expect them to play better than they did tonight," Daigneault said. “The last thing we’re going to do is underestimate this opponent.”

The Thunder held the Mavericks to 39.3% shooting and won big, despite being outrebounded 52-39.

Gilgeous-Alexander rested briefly at the start of the second quarter before subbing in at the 8:20 mark. He scored 11 points in the period to help the Thunder take a 62-53 lead at the break. He scored 19 points in the first half, while reserve Aaron Wiggins scored 12 of his 16 points before the break.

Dallas opened the second half on a run, and a 3-pointer by Irving cut Oklahoma City's lead to 66-65 and forced the Thunder to call a timeout.

Isaiah Joe and Dort hit 3-pointers when play resumed, then Dort ripped Doncic, leading to a dunk by Williams that put the Thunder up 74-67. Gilgeous-Alexander's 3-pointer with Doncic in his face put Oklahoma City up 80-69. Irving hit a 3-pointer as the third quarter expired, but the Thunder still led 89-79.

Williams scored eight straight points for the Thunder in a run that put Oklahoma City ahead 102-87, and the Thunder controlled the game from there.

The Thunder set an Oklahoma City playoff record with 29 assists.

“I thought we got a good groove going after kind of a choppy start," Daigneault said. "Really intelligent attacks. We had a good blend of aggression and also taking what the defense gave us, keeping them on their heels, keeping the ball ahead of them. They’re really good when you slow down and you allow them to kind of scheme and calibrate.”

The Mavericks will need to regroup.

“They’re a great team,” Doncic said. “Great defensive team, great offensive team. So it’s not going to be easy at all. We’ve got to very good basketball and focused basketball for 48 minutes.” (AP)

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