Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 27 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied from 26 points down to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 123-115 on Wednesday night for their first win of the season.
The Thunder equalled their biggest comeback ever to get over the hump after solid showings against Philadelphia and Golden State in their previous two games.
Gilgeous-Alexander said Oklahoma City never considered giving up.
“It’s a 48-minute game,” he said. “Crazier things have happened… So we knew it was possible. I myself have come back from a deficit almost that big, so I knew it was possible. Just stay the course. Every game, every moment for the whole season.”
Darius Bazley added 20 points and rookie Josh Giddey had 18 points and 10 assists for the Thunder, who opened the season with four losses.
Gilgeous-Alexander said he expected the Thunder to break through eventually.
“I knew it would happen,” he said. “I knew we’d get better every game, or try to. The group of guys are hard-nosed guys, competitive guys. At the end of the day, we just want to win.”
The Lakers played without LeBron James, who sat out his second straight game with a sore right ankle.
Russell Westbrook, the former Thunder star, had yet another triple-double in Oklahoma City. He had 20 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists for the 185th triple-double of his career before being ejected in the final seconds. He was cheered loudly during pregame introductions.
Anthony Davis scored 30 points for the Lakers, who fell to 2-3.
“It’s a game that we’re definitely supposed to win,” Davis said. “We’re not supposed to lose at all. But we’ll learn from it and move forward.”
The Thunder led 118-115 with 9.7 seconds left when Carmelo Anthony intercepted an inbounds pass by Giddey. Anthony badly missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the game, and the Thunder rebounded.
Oklahoma City’s Lu Dort was fouled with 4.7 seconds to play. His first free throw rolled in, and he made the second to put the Thunder up five.
Bazley intercepted the inbounds pass and dunked with 1.5 seconds left. Westbrook took exception to Bazley not running out the clock and was ejected for getting his second technical of the night. The crowd turned on Westbrook in the final seconds.
“We’re old-school,” Westbrook said. “When (expletive) like that happens, I don’t let it slide. I take it on the chin and move on. In the game of basketball, there’s certain things you don’t do. There’s certain things you don’t do in sports. Game already over and I didn’t like it. Simple as that.”
Gilgeous-Alexander said Bazley didn’t mean any harm.
“I know Baze,” he said. “I know he wasn’t meaning no disrespect by it. And it just happened heat of the moment.”
Los Angeles shot 68 per cent in the first quarter to take a 41-19 lead, and the Lakers pushed the lead to 56-30 in the second quarter.
Westbrook was called for his first technical in the final minute of the third quarter with the Lakers up 95-91. Gilgeous-Alexander made all three free throws to cut the Lakers’ lead to one.
In the closing seconds of the third, Gilgeous-Alexander pump faked Westbrook, then banked a 3-pointer home at the buzzer to give the Thunder a 97-95 lead.
“It felt good,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “I didn’t know it was going to bank, but it felt good. Yeah, I’ll definitely take it.”