Dang. That really, really, really sucks. Big time. Kevin Durant hits an incredible shot — an INCREDIBLE shot — to put Oklahoma City up one with 2.7 to play. The Thunder actually may beat one of the best teams in the West. The Ford Center is ballistic. But Carmelo Anthony did what he’s paid to do. And in the end the Nuggets did what we all thought they would do.
Not to be lost in the killer, heart-wrenching, wooden spoon to the nards, 122-120 defeat is how well OKC played. Not only did the Thunder push out to a 14-point cushion at one point, but after Denver did what we all knew they would do — comeback — the Thunder weathered the storm (pun intended) and stayed in the game. They got the stop they HAD TO HAVE and KD knocked down the shot. Durant had 33 points, nine boards, five assists, was 10-21 from the floor and 4-5 from three. Jeff Green played a perfect sidekick, chipping in 18. Russell Westbrook was effective, scoring 14 and dishing five assists. Desmond Mason and Damien Wilkins both finally played a little offense. And what the heck has gotten into Earl Watson? Are you actually trying to get me to like you?
I just hope the team can get over it. I hope they realize that they proved themselves in a big way tonight. Coming off a win, they played awesome for 48 full minutes, taking one of the best teams in the league to the edge. It will be tough for them to refocus and get back at it when they were so, so close to the biggest win of the year.
It’s a weird thing to watch one team that’s clearly over-matched battle a far more talented team to the limit. Anthony had 31, Chauncey Billups 24 and Nene 27. Every possession late, it just seemed it would take a miracle from the Thunder to stop the Nuggs.
Honestly, other than the obvious poor defense, there’s nothing really to complain about. It sure would have been sweet to pick up win No. 5 and for it to be over a great team, but OKC played about as good as it could. The Thunder shot 58 percent from the floor. They hit free throws. They rebounded (relatively) well. They didn’t turn it over an absurd amount. They just got beat by a better team.
There were some lost possessions late in the game where Jeff Green airmailed a pass into the eight row and Chris Wilcox inexplicably threw it away. Those would be nice to have back. But dang, I feel for the team. They wanted this one. They played so hard and so well. To come up empty-handed has to hurt. But this happens in the NBA. Happens a lot in fact. It just has to be forgotten as OKC prepares for a Tuesday night run against the Knicks. I think it’s pretty clear right now: You better not come into the Ford Center and expect to roll the ball out, jog up and down the court and walk out with a win. It’s just not happening anymore. This team will play you. And if you’re not ready and focused, they’ll beat you. I really feel that the Thunder could win every two out of five the rest of the way. Mentally, you can see they believe they can win. I think they’re finally getting over the “Here we go again” mentality.
OKC tries to shake this one off against New York Tuesday night at the Ford Center. Good game Thunder. Nothing to hang your heads about.