I definitely had my lede written with 13 seconds left in the game. I was all settled in, typing away at this thing. The Thunder were up by six and with one of the best free throw shooters in the game, Oklahoma City was ready to ice this one at the line.
Then Reggie Williams hit a 3. Then Daequan Cook inbounded the ball. To Monta Ellis.
And wouldn’t you know it, he drained a 3. Tied 106-106. Just like that.
Kevin Durant missed a potential game-winner as time expired and we were off to overtime. Just like that.
I think we all had the sick feeling that the Thunder weren’t going to have enough momentum to win this game in the extra frame. After the shock of having to keep playing, it was going to be hard to shake that off and show up for overtime. But OKC did. Barely.
KD scored eight of the Thunder ‘s nine points on overtime, but Russell Westbrook’s free throw with 11 seconds left was the decider. You’ll notice I said free throw as in singular, because he missed the front end, thus opening the door for what absolutely felt like what was going to be an Ellis game-winner. But Ellis missed long at the buzzer and OKC survived its stupidest game of the year, 115-114.
Kind of the theme of the night was the Warriors coming back and never going away. But just never having enough to quite get over the top.
Perfect example: The Warriors appeared to have closed the third quarter on a 16-2 run to take the lead over the Thunder 77-75 after a Stephen Curry and-1 with 4.1 seconds left. They had all the momentum and Oklahoma City looked disorganized and sloppy. The ball went in to Kevin Durant and just like that, he drilled a 3 to put OKC back up. And though the Thunder flirted with tossing that lead a few times in the fourth, it never happened as OKC closed
The Thunder just never seems to be able to put away the Warriors. Whatever happens, OKC falls asleep for just enough time for Golden State to go on a 10-2 run. It happens every time. And this one was no exception. The Thunder went up 102-94 with two minutes left after a Serge Ibaka dunk. But then the Warriors came charging in what seemed like seconds. Before you knew it, Golden State had ripped of six in a row and cut OKC’s lead to two with 23 seconds left. And that’s what put the Thunder in the position to give this one away. Those kind of lapses are bad, but something the Warriors do to a lot of teams.
The Thunder are now 8-1 in overtime games. Obviously, they just know how to hang in there no matter what. Tonight, they were down 111-109 with 1:31 left. KD got David Lee on the rip move and hit all three free throws. After Ellis drained a jumper, OKC was down 114-112 with 1:09 left. KD nailed a long jumper to tie it up. Then after a big stop, Westbrook got to the rim to draw contract which put him in position to sink the game-winning free throw. And then against all odds the Thunder got a final stop to win. However you slice it, these guys are tough and resilient. Even in trying to give one away, OKC was able to win. Not how this was supposed to end, but it’s a win nonetheless.
- On the bad pass that gave Ellis the game-tying shot, Scott Brooks took blame. “We’ve got to do a much better job at execution down the stretch and I take blame on that. I should’ve called a timeout.” Then Daequan Cook took blame. “It was what I did and I said I was the reason. It was tough, but I took responsibility for the pass I made.” And then KD took more blame. “That was all my fault. I felt so bad that I caused him to throw that ball away. I was thinking someone was behind me since Stephen Curry was denying me a little bit but he threw it to my hand but I just stood there and watched. So that was my fault, I take the blame for that. Something that won’t happen again, I’ll tell you that for sure. I apologized to Daequan and I won’t put him in that position again.” Then I took the blame. “That was entirely my fault for jumping up and waving at KD the whole game. I distracted him.”
- Here’s a funny stat: OKC is 37-4 when taking a lead into the fourth quarter and just 10-18 when they trail. And only by the skin of its teeth did they lead this one. And only by the skin of its teeth did they win in overtime. But the next time you see that stat it’ll say 38-4 and you’ll think, “Wow, the Thunder are good when they have a lead!”
- KD was absolutely terrific. He had 39 points on 13-23 shooting (3-5 from 3), had six boards and five assists in 48 minutes. He said he’d been slumping a bit, so it was good to drop a few shots. “That’s all I do, extra work, watching film, but mainly just keeping faith that everything will turn around,” he said. “I think every player goes through it. Just keeping with it and never giving up. It’s a test. Everybody goes through tests in life and I guess that was one of them for me. I’m glad it’s over with, I hope it’s over with.”
- That quote shows you what a perfectionist KD is. He’s still be averaging close to 25 a game this month on 45 percent shooting but felt like he was slumping. He’s right, he hasn’t necessarily been his excellent self. But if that’s a KD slump, then I can definitely live with one of those every now and then. Funny thing about tonight was, KD missed his first shot which was a free throw. It looked like he was going to have another rough one, but he snapped out quickly.
- Good thing too, because Russell Westbrook didn’t have a great one. He scored 15 but on 4-15 shooting. He had nine assists and eight rebounds, but six turnovers. Luckily, KD was awesome and Eric Maynor great off the bench, dishing out six assists in just 14 minutes.
- Stephen Curry was once again great against OKC. He finished with 35 on 13-23 shooting (5-8 from 3) and had six assists and five rebounds.
- As expected, KD played a lot of power forward without Nick Collison available. And it was OKC’s small lineup that pushed out to a lead in the fourth quarter. The group of Maynor, Harden, Cook, Durant and Mohammed did a great job.
- Ibaka had yet another great game: 19 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. I’m starting to wonder where he ranks among power forwards in the league. I’m serious.
- Kendrick Perkins was quietly good with 13 rebounds in 29 minutes. He basically owned the glass and kept the Warriors from many second chances (OKC outrebounded GSW 52-42). Perk didn’t score and went 0-2 from the line though. So far for the Thunder, he’s shooting just 36 percent (7-19) on free throws. He’s two for his last 13.
- You really can’t understate how excellent the Warriors road jerseys are.
- Is it just me or does anyone else love the horn sounding thing that happens right before starting lineups? I just love the whole starting lineup sequence. The horn, the song, the jumping into each other. You think if I asked real nice the Thunder would let me run out during all of that? It could be My Wish.
- So much for the respect for the game enforcement. Second quarter, Monta Ellis slammed the ball down in ref Josh Tiven’s face and yelled, “That’s bulls—!”
- Daequan Cook wasn’t just off with his passes. He went just 2-8 from 3 tonight. But I liked that Brooks stuck with him and that he kept shooting. He’s in there to shoot. If he’s open, he’s got to do it.
- The Warriors still took 15 more shots than the Thunder tonight (103-88). Not as bad as 40 though.
- My favorite play of the game: Late fourth, KD has a transition dunk but left it for Serge Ibaka who had a little easier dunk.
- Before Ellis made that tying 3, he was 8-25 and 0-4 from. So of course while it was in the air, I had no doubt it was going in.
- After a Daequan Cook 3-point attempt, him and Steph Curry fell into a courtside waitress who spilled a bunch of drinks. One happened to be coffee. Who did they fall into? The Durant family. Coffee spilled all over KD’s mom and brother. Tony’s pants were soaked.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night via @cunn1780: “‘Aw shiver me timbers!!!’ as Kelly Crull does the captain Morgan pose.”
OKC finishes the homestand at 5-1 and the month of March at 13-2. Not bad at all. The losses came against the Grizzlies and the Raptors. Other than that, the Thunder took care of everyone they were better than and beat a few good teams (Miami, Portland, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Phoenix). Moving into April strong is a good thing and it just barely happened. The Thunder tried to throw one away, but they finished it out in overtime. Winning ugly is sometimes how you get it done in the playoffs. So the lesson here is, take everyone to overtime in the postseason.
Next up: At Phoenix Wednesday night.