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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leads Thunder past Mavs to tie the series at 2-2

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander received little offensive help from his teammates on Monday evening.

He didn’t need it.

The Thunder All-Star team overcame a 14-point deficit in the first half to lead Oklahoma City to a 100-96 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. With this win, the Thunder tied the Western Conference semifinals at 2–2 to avoid returning to Oklahoma City on the brink of elimination.

In a tough match for both teams, Gilgeous-Alexander was the star of the show by scoring 34 points. He helped lead the Thunder back from a 22-8 deficit in the first quarter and then built a 9-0 run in the fourth quarter, putting the Thunder ahead 89-86. Oklahoma City never trailed again.

The Thunder struggled most of the night against a suffocating Dallas defense that repeatedly challenged Oklahoma City’s efforts in the paint. But Gilgeous-Alexander thrived while Mavericks stars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving struggled on offense.

Dončić had a chance to tie the game at the free throw line in the final seconds. He missed two shots with Dallas trailing 96-94 with 10.1 seconds left. Gilgeous-Alexander kept the game going with a pair of free throws with 1.4 seconds left to secure the four-point victory.

Powered by PJ Washington and a dominant effort in the paint, Dallas took control early. The Mavericks led 30-20 in the first quarter and 54-43 at halftime. They did much of their early work on the boards with a 13-5 rebounding advantage in the first quarter and a 22-17 advantage at halftime. They recorded nine blocks in the first half while holding the Thunder to 34.9% shooting from the field. Oklahoma City made just one of 11 three-point attempts in the first half.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander put on a show in Oklahoma City's win over Dallas on Monday night.  (Tim Hittman/Getty Images)Shai Gilgeous-Alexander put on a show in Oklahoma City's win over Dallas on Monday night.  (Tim Hittman/Getty Images)

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander put on a show in Oklahoma City’s win over Dallas on Monday night. (Tim Hittman/Getty Images)

The Thunder responded in kind, shutting down the Mavs’ offense in the third quarter, limiting Dallas to 15 points in the stanza. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 12 points in the quarter as the Thunder finished with a 22-12 lead, closing the gap to 69-65 at the start of the fourth quarter.

Dallas held the lead for most of the fourth quarter until Gilgeous-Alexander took control of the game in the final six minutes. He scored eight straight Thunder points while making regular contested shots to get the Thunder back in the game.

His statistical crack over Tim Hardaway Jr. and Washington tied the game at 86-86.

Then a Chet Holmgren 3 with an assist from Gilgeous-Alexander capped a 9-0 run, giving the Thunder their first lead since 4-2 in the first quarter at 89-86. And they didn’t abandon it.

When the game was over, Oklahoma City had erased the early rebound deficit and had a 47-45 lead on the glass. The Thunder shot 6 of 16 from 3 after halftime following a one-man halftime tie.

Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 34 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals while shooting 14 of 27 from the field. He missed his only three-point attempt. Holmgren added 18 points, nine rebounds and four blocks while shooting 6 of 9 from the field. Jalen Williams (5 of 19), Josh Giede (2 of 8) and Loguentz Dort (4 of 14) struggled from the field as Oklahoma City overcame a 38% shooting night to secure the victory.

Dallas wasn’t much better from the field on the night, shooting 40.9%. Mistakes at the free throw line proved costly. The Mavericks missed five free throws in the fourth quarter and attempted 12-for-23 (52%) from the stripe on the night.

Dončić’s late miss stood out, but he was the only outlier among the six to attempt over 50% on free throws in a 4-of-6 effort. He finished with an 18-point triple-double, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. But the shooting woes that plagued him all postseason (41% before Monday) returned on a 6-for-20 effort from the field.

Irving gave up shots to his teammates while shooting 4-for-11 from the field for nine points and nine assists. Washington led the Mavericks in scoring for the third straight game as he scored 21 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and shot 5 of 11 from 3. Unlike Games 2 and 3, his score did not lead to victory.

The series now returns to Oklahoma City for Game 5 on Wednesday night.