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Preview: Thunder at Pelicans - 11/10

After a quick return to Oklahoma City on Monday, the Thunder hits the road to take on the Pelicans for a one-game road trip. With its 99-94 win over the Spurs, the Thunder racked up its second straight victory as well as its third victory so far this season bouncing back from 16 points or more.

What to Watch

OKC Balanced Scoring In its victory over San Antonio on Sunday, the Thunder had five players score in double figures and six registering nine or more. In the team’s two previous victories, OKC had six players score 10 or more points. As a team that looks to play collective basketball and solve problems with all five players on the floor, expect more balanced scoring from the Thunder on Wednesday.

Battle of the Benches The Thunder has received massive contributions from its second unit over its past two games. Most notably, center Mike Muscala chipped in 20 points in the second unit during the Thunder’s win over San Antonio on Sunday. The Pelicans however, receive over 76 percent of their total points from the starting unit, marking the second most in the NBA. Keep an eye on the both team’s reserves and how they contribute to the game.

Advantage at the LineDon’t expect New Orleans to take many trips to the free throw line on Wednesday. So far this season, the Thunder has held its opponents to the fewest free throw attempts per contest (14.9) and even held the Spurs to zero free throw attempts in the first half on Monday. Meanwhile, the Pelicans hold the third-lowest free throw attempt average in the league (17).

Notable

Wednesday’s game will be a fun matchup for Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as he will be going head-to-head against his cousin, Pelicans’ guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker. The two grew up together in Toronto and in high school, both players attended Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee together. As Alexander-Walker enters into his third season in the league, Wednesday’s matchup will mark the fourth time the two cousins have faced one another in the NBA.

“It’ll be fun. I’m for sure starting to get more used to it every year. It wasn’t as cool as it was the first time but it will for sure be fun,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “I’ll try to take it to him. Try to come out with a W for sure.”

Quotable

Kenrich Williams on what the last two wins have done for the team… “Being down in those two games, it kind of it gives you the confidence to where if we find ourselves in this position again, we've come back and won games where we've been down. It just kind of gives you that confidence as a team. It’s a good feeling.”Mark Daigneault on the mentality facing the 1-10 Pelicans… “I think you can always assume that the opponent's gonna be motivated because it's a competitive league. And these are really good players and really prideful, you know, teams. So you can expect a motivated opponent every night.”

Scouting Report

After its loss to the Mavericks on Monday, the Pelicans have fallen to a seven-game losing streak and a 1-10 start to the year. So far this season, the Pelicans have been without their All-Star forward Zion Williamson who is still recovering from a foot injury. In addition, the group has been without Brandon Ingram over the past four games with a hip contusion.

In Ingram’s absence, starting center Jonas Valanciunas leads the Pelicans in scoring (19.5 points) as well as rebounds per game (13.9). In the team’s last game against the Mavericks, both Valanciunas and guard Josh Hart logged 22 points leading New Orleans in scoring.