Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) shoots next to...

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) shoots next to New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones (5) as Pelicans guard Trey Murphy III (25) watches during the first half in Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Oklahoma City. Credit: AP/Nate Billings

OKLAHOMA CITY — Just a few days ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder looked like a young team struggling through their first playoff game together.

On Wednesday night, they looked like grizzled playoff veterans.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 33 points and the top-seeded Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans 124-92 to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round Western Conference playoff series.

Gilgeous-Alexander said the Thunder remained focused instead of worrying about outside issues such as other highly seeded teams struggling at home.

“I think it just goes back to us prioritizing winning,” he said. “And all those things are distractions that get in the way of winning. And every night, all 15 of us go to bed and want to win the next game, want to win the next day. And we do everything we can to do so.”

Chet Holmgren had 26 points and seven rebounds and Jalen Williams added 21 points for the Thunder, who shot 59% from the field and made 14 of 29 3-pointers.

Jonas Valanciunas scored 19 points and Herb Jones and Brandon Ingram added 18 each for the Pelicans.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, right, drives against New...

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, right, drives against New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum, left, during the first half in Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Oklahoma City. Credit: AP/Nate Billings

In Game 1, Valanciunas had 20 rebounds, including nine offensive, and the Pelicans outrebounded the Thunder 52-44. On Wednesday, Oklahoma City outrebounded New Orleans 37-35 and held the Pelicans to eight offensive boards.

The Pelicans continued to struggle on offense without top scorer Zion Williamson, who remained out with a strained left hamstring. Ingram, New Orleans' No. 2 scorer in the regular season, got off just 10 shots in Game 2 as Oklahoma City's Lu Dort harassed him throughout the night. Ingram made just 5 of 17 field goals in Game 1.

The Thunder also scored 22 points off New Orleans’ 18 turnovers.

Game 3 is Saturday in New Orleans.

New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas, right, shoots a reverse...

New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas, right, shoots a reverse shot against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Chet Holmgren (7) during the first half in Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Oklahoma City. Credit: AP/Nate Billings

“Now, the challenge is to continue to grow and learn and improve with the series because the Pelicans are going to improve," Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. "They’re a good team that’s going home and they’re well coached. They’re going to get better. You know so we have to continue to get better.”

The pace picked up significantly from Sunday's game, which Oklahoma City won 94-92. The Thunder, who averaged 120.1 points in the regular season, were much more comfortable with it.

“In the first game, I thought both teams were kind of calibrating," Daigneault said. "And, tonight we had much quicker recognition of the way that they were guarding us, where we wanted to attack, and we got to those things pretty well.”

Valanciunas scored 11 points in the first three minutes, but Holmgren countered with 13 points in the first seven minutes.

Gilgeous-Alexander picked up where Holmgren left off. He didn't score for the first nine minutes, then scored seven in the final three minutes of the quarter to help the Thunder take a 35-22 lead. Holmgren's 15 points were the most by a Thunder rookie in any quarter of a playoff game.

“I thought they turned up the pressure offensively,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “They got some early 3's and that opened the floodgates up for them.”

Oklahoma City led 63-50 at halftime. Holmgren scored 20 points and Gilgeous-Alexander added 16 before the break.

The Thunder extended their lead to 92-74 at the end of the third, and Gilgeous-Alexander and Holmgren went to the bench for good with the Thunder leading 120-86 in the fourth.

“Tough one for us,” Green said. “Give them credit, they took care of home court. It was a dominant win for them. So we’ll get home, we’ll regroup and get back after it.”

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