Returning from a five-game absence, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 38 points to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 129-119 victory over the visiting Utah Jazz on Sunday.
The Thunder swept the two-game home set with the Jazz, who lost their third consecutive game.
Jalen Williams added a career-high 32 points on 12-of-15 shooting for Oklahoma City.
It didn’t take long for Gilgeous-Alexander to get going.
Less than 30 seconds into the game, Gilgeous-Alexander hit a turnaround jumper along the baseline. On his way to the other end, he said said, “I’m back.”
Oklahoma City led the rest of the game.
By the end of the first quarter, the Thunder led 35-20 with Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey combining for more points (21) than the Jazz scored as a team. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 13 points in the first.
The Jazz were just 5-for-21 from the floor in the first quarter.
Gilgeous-Alexander had been out with an abdominal strain and was in the league’s health and safety protocol.
“We know what it takes to win games, and we tried to do it tonight.”
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander speaks on his first game back in the win over Utah!@okcthunder | #ThunderUp pic.twitter.com/N8IGhJbjoQ
— Bally Sports Oklahoma (@BallySportsOK) March 6, 2023
Late in the third quarter, when Utah trimmed what was a 24-point Thunder lead down to 10, Gilgeous-Alexander dove on the floor to grab a loose ball and fed it to Isaiah Joe, who drained a long 3-pointer to give Oklahoma City control again.
In Friday’s loss to the Thunder, the Jazz committed 26 turnovers, leading to 32 Oklahoma City points.
Turnovers were once again a major issue for Utah on Sunday. The Jazz had 16, and the Thunder converted them into 28 points on the other end.
Utah scored 14 points off Oklahoma City’s 12 turnovers.
The Jazz were without leading scorer Lauri Markkanen, who was sidelined with lower back soreness.
Jordan Clarkson returned after missing Utah’s last two games with a thumb sprain, while Collin Sexton missed his fifth consecutive game with a left hamstring strain.
Clarkson led the Jazz with 18 points but was just 6 of 15 from the floor. Clarkson added 12 assists.
Walker Kessler (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Kelly Olynyk (15 points, 10 rebounds) each had double-doubles in the loss.
Giddey added 24 points, nine rebounds and nine assists for Oklahoma City.
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