NBA playoffs: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander powers Thunder rally past Mavs to tie series at 2-2

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander didn't get much offensive help from his teammates Monday night.

He didn't need it.

The Thunder All-Star powered a rally from a 14-point first-half deficit to lead Oklahoma City to a 100-96 win over the Dallas Mavericks. With the win, the Thunder tied the Western Conference semifinals at 2-2 to avoid going back to Oklahoma City on the brink of elimination.

In a grind of a game for both teams, Gilgeous-Alexander was the star of the show in a 34-point effort. He helped lead the Thunder back from a 22-8 first-quarter deficit then powered a 9-0 fourth-quarter run that put the Thunder up, 89-86. Oklahoma City didn't trail again.

The Thunder struggled for much of the night against a stifling Dallas defense that repeatedly challenged Oklahoma City's efforts in the paint. But Gilgeous-Alexander thrived while Mavericks All-Stars Luka Dončić 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 the front end of two shots with Dallas trailing, 96-94, with 10.1 seconds remaining. Gilgeous-Alexander went on to ice the game with a pair of free throws with 1.4 seconds remaining to secure the four-point win.

Powered by P.J. Washington and a dominant effort in the paint, Dallas took control early. The Mavericks led 30-20 after the first quarter and 54-43 at halftime. They did much of their early work on the boards with a 13-5 rebounding edge in the first quarter and a 22-17 advantage at halftime. They'd tallied nine blocks by halftime while holding the Thunder to 34.9% shooting from the field. Oklahoma City hit just 1 of 11 3-point attempts in the first half.

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

The Thunder responded in kind and put the clamps on 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 on a 22-12 run to cut their deficit to 69-65 for the start of the fourth.

Dallas maintained the lead through most of the fourth quarter until Gilgeous-Alexander seized control of the game in the final six minutes. He scored eight straight Thunder points while repeatedly hitting contested shots to claw the Thunder back into the game.

His baseline tear-drop floater over Tim Hardaway Jr. and Washington tied the game at 86-86.

A Chet Holmgren 3 on a Gilgeous-Alexander assist then capped a 9-0 run, giving the Thunder their first lead since 4-2 in the first quarter at 89-86. They did not relinquish it.

When it was over, Oklahoma City had erased its early rebounding deficit and secured a 47-45 edge on the glass for the game. The Thunder shot 6 of 16 from 3 after halftime after the single make in the first half.

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 3-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 Giddey (2 of 8) and Luguentz Dort (4 for 14) all struggled from the field as Oklahoma City overcame a 38% shooting night to secure the win.

Dallas wasn't much better from the field on a 40.9% shooting night. Misses at the free-throw line proved costly down the stretch. The Mavericks missed five free throws in the fourth quarter in a 12-for-23 (52%) effort from the stripe for the night.

Dončić's late miss stood out, but he was the only Maverick out of six who attempted free throws to shoot better than 50% at the stripe on a 4-for-6 effort. He finished with an 18-point, 12-rebound, 10-assist triple-double. But the shooting woes that have plagued him throughout the postseason (41% before Monday) struck again in a 6-of-20 effort from the field.

Irving ceded his shots to teammates while shooting 4 of 11 from the field in a nine-point, nine-assist effort. Washington led the Mavericks in scoring for a third straight game while tallying 21 points and 12 rebounds and shooting 5 of 11 from 3. Unlike Games 2 and 3, his scoring production didn't lead to a win.

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