The Oklahoma City Thunder, fueled by 34 points from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander knocked off Western Conference leaders Minnesota 129-106 on Tuesday as Detroit’s 27th defeat saddled them with an unwelcome piece of NBA history.
The Thunder underscored their status as Western Conference contenders with a convincing home win over the Timberwolves.
Jalen Williams scored 21 points, rookie Chet Holmgren and Lu Dort added 20 apiece and Oklahoma City made 18 three-pointers in a game they led by as many as 25 points.
“I think we played together on both ends of the floor for the most part of the night,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “When we do that and trust that, things go our way usually.”
The Thunder connected on better than 60 percent of their shots from the field and, despite a size disadvantage, were dominant defensively, harrying the Timberwolves into 24 turnovers.
Anthony Edwards led Minnesota with 25 points. Mike Conley added 17 and Karl-Anthony Towns scored 16.
It was another dismal night in Detroit, where the Pistons’ 118-112 loss to the Brooklyn Nets saw them set a single-season record for consecutive defeats.
“Nobody wants something like this attached to them,” said Pistons coach Monty Williams, whose team hasn’t won since October 28.
Detroit, an iconic franchise that won NBA titles in 1989, 1990 and 2004, surpassed the 26-game losing streaks of the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and the 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers.
They’re closing in on the longest losing streak ever, the 28-game slide of the 76ers that spanned the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
Detroit’s Cade Cunningham scored 41 points, but once again the Pistons squandered a strong start with too many mistakes.
Detroit still had their chances late, taking a 97-92 lead early in the fourth quarter only for Brooklyn — led by 24 points from Cameron Johnson and 21 from Mikal Bridges — to respond with a 13-0 scoring run.
As the final moments ticked off, fans at Little Caesars Arena were once again chanting “Sell the team!”
“It weighs on us every day,” Cunningham said. “We need to continue to lean on each other and continue to push each other and hold each other accountable more than ever now,” he said.
It was a nail-biter in New Orleans, meanwhile, where Ja Morant scored 31 points to lead the Memphis Grizzlies in a 116-115 overtime victory over the Pelicans.
The Grizzlies improved to 4-0 since Morant returned from a 25-game NBA suspension.
Desmond Bane scored 27 points, his three-pointer with 33.6 seconds left in regulation pulling the Grizzlies within one point after they trailed by as many as 15.
Jaren Jackson’s free throw tied it, but he missed a second from the foul line and they went to the extra session, where Bane’s free throw for a 116-112 lead proved enough for the win over a Pelicans team led by Brandon Ingram’s 24 points.
In Chicago, DeMar DeRozan scored 25 points and Andre Drummond added 24 points and 25 rebounds in his first start of the season for the Bulls, who beat the Atlanta Hawks 118-113.
Drummond added three steals and two blocks as he got the start in place of injured Nikola Vucevic and helped the Bulls keep high-flying Hawk Trae Young in check.
Young finished with 21 points and 13 assists and saw his record-equalling streak of seven straight games with at least 30 points and 10 assists come to an end.
Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton scored 33 points and handed out 10 assists in the Pacers’ 123-111 victory over the Rockets in Houston.
Eight Pacers players scored in double figures as Indiana halted a three-game losing streak.
Haliburton, whose seven three-pointers included a go-ahead trey with 1:03 remaining, was delighted to come away with a win in a tight game that featured 15 lead changes.
“We felt like this game was kind of a must win for us,” he said. “That’s a really good team, a really feisty team, and we just figured out a way to pull it out today.”
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