It could have turned out so much worse for Oklahoma City.
The Thunder won their fifth straight game by beating the New Orleans Pelicans 122-116 on Monday night, but they lost star point guard Russell Westbrook with a sprained left ankle.
After coming down hard on the side of his foot, Westbrook pounded the ground in frustration before limping off the court. The Thunder led 84-77 when he left the game with 4:25 left in the third quarter.
There was limited information on Westbrook’s status after the game.
“We’ll see,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “Generally, with those things, we’ll see how he does in the morning. But it’s a sprained ankle. Hopefully, he’ll be OK.”
Oklahoma City went on a run without its star to close the third quarter and led 100-86 at the end of the period.
The Pelicans closed the gap to a point in the final minute of the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City’s Dennis Schroder made two free throws with 20.5 seconds left and Paul George made a pair with 11.8 seconds to play to clinch the win for the Thunder.
“When he went out, I thought our guys competed and played extremely hard,” Donovan said.
Schroder scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to help the Thunder hold on.
“When the fourth quarter started and we started to battle back, it’s too high of a mountain to climb — especially against a team that good, even without Westbrook,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “They got a capable guy. Schroder, I thought, played great. He’s been a starter in this league. It’s not a role he hasn’t been in.”
George finished with 23 points, Schroder scored 22 and Steven Adams added 18. Westbrook finished with 17 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
Julius Randle scored 28 points and made all 10 of his shots and Jrue Holiday scored 22 points for the Pelicans. Anthony Davis scored 20 points but made just 7 of 20 shots.
Donovan said Adams did a good job defending Davis. Adams wasn’t so sure.
“I had a game plan, man, but honestly, he missed a lot of easy ones to be honest,” Adams said. “There was a lot of breakdowns. I got lucky on a few of them.”
It was the sixth straight loss for New Orleans after opening the season with four wins.
“We’re putting ourselves in position where we have to have a perfect storm to win,” Gentry said. “In other words, we dig in, make our run, we come back, but we’re never ahead. But we’re playing hard and competing at a real high level. We’re going to be fine.”
Pelicans: Had 11 offensive rebounds and 11 second-chance points in the first half. … Made 25 of 30 free throws. … F Nikola Mirotic had 16 points and matched a career high with 16 rebounds.
Thunder: Made nine of their first 10 shots. … Shot 71.4 percent in the first quarter. … Adams made his first seven shots.
George on Westbrook’s injury: “Russ has a pretty high pain tolerance, so I knew was something that was serious. I’m glad it wasn’t his knee. I thought I saw him holding his knee. I’ll say it’s unfortunate, but I think we can all say this. As bad as it was, we’re happy that it wasn’t the knee and it was just an ankle sprain.”
The Thunder are averaging 122.4 points during their win streak. They have shot better than 50 percent from the field in three of those games. They shot 48.4 percent against the Pelicans.
Adams was a team-best plus 22 while Davis was a team-worst minus 18.
Pelicans: Host the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.
Thunder: Play at the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.
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