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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Leads Thunder to Victory with 30-Point Performance in 3 Quarters against Jazz

OKLAHOMA CITY — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 30 points in three quarters, and the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Utah Jazz 134-120 on Monday night in the NBA.

Gilgeous-Alexander also had seven assists to lead an Oklahoma City offense that shot 52% from the field and logged 35 assists.

“I feel like every great scorer has to deal with finding the balance,” he said. “And it’s something that I always try to critique myself on and something that I always try to get better at. And I can always get better at it. It’s something that I focus on for sure.”

Josh Giddey added 12 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in just 24 minutes for Oklahoma City. Teams had been backing off him because of his shooting struggles, but he made the Jazz pay by moving and making himself more available around the hoop.

“He’s having to evolve right now with the way he’s getting played off ball, and I thought tonight he did a nice job of that,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “He found some cuts, he had really good ball movement plays, he’s made good passes in the middle of the floor. That’s something we’ve adjusted to.”

Ousmane Dieng had a season-high 18 points on 6-for-7 shooting off the bench. He has moved back and forth between the Thunder and the team’s G League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue this season.

“I think it validates the time he spent in the G League,” Daigneault said. “He played four games in a very short period of time. That’s why we sent him. There was the volume of games he could get in just a week, and he’s a better player. He came back obviously very sharp from that experience.”

Chet Holmgren had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Thunder, who have won four of five to strengthen their hold on second place in the Western Conference standings.

Keyonte George, a rookie from Baylor, scored a season-best 30 points for the Jazz. Collin Sexton had 20 and Simone Fontecchio added a season-high 19. Jordan Clarkson, Utah’s No. 2 scorer this season, had just eight points on 3-for-13 shooting.

Jazz scoring leader Lauri Markkanen sat out for the eighth straight game with a strained left hamstring. Utah fell to 3-5 without him.

Isaiah Joe hit a corner 3-pointer at the second-quarter buzzer to give the Thunder a 66-52 lead at halftime. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 15 points and Dieng had 12 points in 10 minutes during the first half. Fontecchio scored 15 before the break for Utah.

Oklahoma City shot 65% from the field in the third quarter to push its lead out to 111-75. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting in the period.

The Thunder handled business in the first three quarters against a struggling Jazz team missing its top scorer.

“We don’t play the record,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “It’s 29 (other) teams in this NBA that are really good and can beat anybody on any night. That’s how we approach it.”

UP NEXT

Jazz: Host the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

Thunder: Visit the Sacramento Kings on Thursday.