Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit a tiebreaking jumper with 1.4 seconds left and finished with 24 points, helping the Oklahoma City Thunder hold off a furious rally by the Charlotte Hornets to win their season opener 109-107 Saturday night.
The Thunder led by 13 with 1:50 to go, but Miles Bridges spurred Charlotte with 11 of his 14 points in the final 1:06 — including a trio of 3s in the last 25 seconds. His final 3 tied it at 107 with 10.3 seconds left.
Gilgeous-Alexander then took the inbound pass, brought the ball up the floor and pulled up from 23 feet to drain a contested jumper over Caleb Martin from the top of the key.
George Hill was 8 of 9 from the field and finished with 21 points, and Darius Bazley and Luguentz Dort each had 15 points for the Thunder after their first scheduled game against the Rockets was postponed earlier in the week.
Terry Rozier, who had 42 points on 10 3-pointers in Charlotte’s loss to the Cavaliers to open the season, had 19 points to lead the Hornets, but his desperation heave at the buzzer fell short.
P.J. Washington added 18 points and rookie LaMelo Ball scored 13 points off the bench.
Ball was held scoreless in the NBA regular season debut against the Cavaliers but scored nine in the first quarter Saturday, including two 3s. He later got a floater to fall from 13 feet and added a dunk off a steal, finishing the first half 5 of 6 from the floor for 13 points to give the Hornets a 59-57 lead at the break. However, he did not score in the second half, missing all four shots from the field.
Thunder: Outrebound the Hornets 54-47 behind 13 boards from Al Horford.
Hornets: Bismack Biyombo started at center for Cody Zeller, who is out at least four weeks after breaking a bone in his left hand in the team’s season-opening loss at Cleveland.
Thunder: Will host the Jazz on Monday night in their home opener.
Hornets: Will be tested as they host Kevin Durant and the Nets in a back-to-back at home Sunday night.