NBA playoffs: Sharpshooting Thunder puts Pelicans on verge of elimination with Game 3 win

Oklahoma City looks every bit like the West's No. 1 seed

The Oklahoma City Thunder are one win away from advancing to the second round of the NBA playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 season.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 24 points with eight assists and five rebounds to lead the Thunder to a 106–85 win in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series with the New Orleans Pelicans. Oklahoma City takes a 3–0 series lead. No team has ever rallied from a 3–0 series deficit to win an NBA playoff series.

Josh Giddey and Jalen Williams both added 21 points. Giddey also contributed eight rebounds and six assists.

Excellent outside shooting propelled the Thunder to their decisive victory. Giddey went 4-for-7 from three-point range, while Lu Dort shot 4-for-8. Williams nailed three of his four three-point attempts. As a team, Oklahoma City shot 47 percent (17-for-36) from behind the arc, providing a significant advantage over the Pelicans, who shot 31 percent (9-for-29) from three.

Brandon Ingram led New Orleans with 19 points, his best total of the series thus far despite Dort playing tough defense on him.

However, Ingram didn't provide enough scoring punch to make up for the absence of Zion Williamson, who hasn't yet appeared in the playoffs while he recovers from a hamstring injury suffered during the Pelicans' first game of the play-in tournament.

Ingram is also working his way back from a knee injury that sidelined him for 12 games toward the end of the regular season.

C.J. McCollum added 16 points, seven assists and five rebounds, while Herb Jones scored 16 points.

Another advantage the Thunder had was Chet Holmgren protecting the rim. The rookie had four blocks, which not only prevented New Orleans from scoring but fueled Oklahoma City in transition.

Holmgren also compiled eight rebounds and six points while preventing the Pelicans' frontcourt from making much of an impact.

New Orleans coach Willie Green started Larry Nance Jr. at center to begin the second half, hoping he could provide a better matchup against Holmgren than Jonas Valanciunas, who only scored seven points. Nance finished with nine points.

The Thunder earned the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, getting to the postseason for the first time in four years. Prior to this season, Oklahoma City hadn't gotten out of the first round in its previous four playoff appearances.

In 2015-16, the squad with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka advanced to the West finals, losing to the Golden State Warriors in seven games.

Game 4 of the Thunder-Pelicans series is scheduled for Monday. Tip-off from New Orleans is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET with the broadcast on NBA TV.