Oklahoma City Thunder show it has bark in tight Game 1 win over New Orleans Pelicans

OKLAHOMA CITY — It felt like the old days. Looked like the old days. Sounded like the old days.

Except for the barking. That part was new.

For the first time in five years, to the exact April 21 date, playoff basketball was back in Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans, 94-92, Sunday night at Paycom Center, seizing Game 1 in the best-of-seven series.

Even the score was a throwback.

It’s weird to say the Thunder stole a home game, but that’s what it felt like as the Pelicans missed a slew of would-be fatal 3s, failing to make the Thunder pay for its sloppiness down the stretch.

The Thunder proved it could win a wrestling match, and at one point, that’s what the game devolved into.

Thunder wing Jalen Williams and Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas got tied up in the third quarter going for a rebound, with neither willing to relinquish the ball. After finally relenting, Jalen Williams called on the dogs.

Hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo.

The building formerly known as The Peake became The Pound.

J-Dub barked and Thunder fans barked with him.

The in-game ops team was ready for the moment, flashing a rottweiler on the jumbotron.

By the end, the Thunder proved it had just enough bite behind the bark to take Game 1.

Joe Mussatto is a sports columnist for The Oklahoman. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at Support Joe's work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Thunder edge Pelicans in NBA playoff first-round Game 1