Down five with two minutes left, it wasn’t looking good for the Thunder. Down five with 40 seconds left, it really wasn’t looking good for the Thunder.
Oklahoma City put itself in a position to lose with horrible halfcourt execution during pretty much the entire fourth quarter. The defense was good enough, the work on the boards sufficed. But OKC couldn’t run a clean set to save its life.
So down five, needed two baskets and a stop, it just did not look good for the Thunder.
But that’s why having a player like Kevin Durant is so, so nice. Because at any moment, at any time, he can pick an entire team up. First, it was a tough running baseline jumper. That was big. Then with the Thunder needing a stop or they lose, KD played wonderful defense on Andre Iguodala, getting a piece of his shot. OKC controlled and here we were — down three with 12 seconds left and the game in the hands of Scott Brooks’ clipboard. He dialed up a decent set for Durant who did what he’s always capable of doing: knock down a big one.
Just like that, the Thunder was poised to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat. They just needed one more stop to get to overtime. And that’s where Russell Westbrook made a play. Iguodala recklessly attacked the rim and Westbrook saw it the whole way. He could’ve sat down, he waited so long on Iguodala to run him over. Charge and we’re going the other way. Durant had a long heave for 3 miss, but amazingly, OKC was in overtime.
Once it got to OT, it just didn’t seem like the Thunder would let it slip away. Westbrook had a big and-1. The team continued with great defensive pressure. KD dropped a tough 18-footer to put OKC up three. Then Westbrook sealed the deal with a big shot from pretty much the same spot. Game, Thunder, 110-105.
Truly, this is a really nice win. The Sixers are good — especially at home — and the Thunder had to make big plays to win. There’s plenty to nitpick and point out, but the fact is, OKC won a really tough game it probably shouldn’t have. That’s how you win in the playoffs. You make plays. And the Thunder found a way to get a quality road win.
- Durant was awesome (34 points on 13-26 and 16 rebounds), but his defense on Iguodala can’t be understated. Iggy was put on KD to stop him, but it turned out to be the other way. Iguodala finished the game going 0-5 with six turnovers and Durant basically swallowed him whole.
- Westbrook, terrific as well. 27 points, 12 assists, five rebounds. He lost control a few times down the stretch, but that’s what you get with Russ. Doesn’t mean you can’t yell at him, but to get the good, sometimes you have to have the bad. Seven turnovers are a lot, but you’ve kind of got to live with it sometimes.
- You know who gets my game ball though? Nick Collison. In 31 minutes, Collison had 13 points and 10 rebounds and really played a strong, physical game inside.
- Serge Ibaka played 32 minutes. It really didn’t feel like it.
- Scott Brooks stuck his thumb in our eyes, going SUPER small at two points in the game. Once in the second and again in the fourth. He had Maynor, Harden, Cook, Thabo and Collison together. In the second, it worked relatively well, but when Doug Collins countered in the fourth using Thaddeus Young, OKC was overmatched. It took an easy Young bucket over Harden for Brooks to snap out of it with about five minutes left and get Ibaka back in the game.
- While Brooks did a decent job managing rotations tonight, how do you have Thabo on the floor those last two possessions of regulation? That really makes no sense to me. I know he likes Thabo to throw the ball in and for the most part, Sefolosha does a good job there, but needing 3-pointers you don’t go with Cook? I don’t get it.
- How good is the 76ers court? I just wanted to pause the game and stare at it.
- When KD finishes the rip move with an and-1, it’s like finding $20 in an old pair of jeans. And when it happens on a 3, might as well just hand me the keys to a new car too.
- However, you can’t recap this game without mentioning the officiating. It was atrocious. First, how do they not review Durant’s rip move 4-point and-1? It was fairly obvious KD’s toe was on the line. That extra point sort of turned out to be important. Then, how about that horrible off-the-ball foul called on Elton Brand in overtime? It probably was a moving screen, but sheesh, big call in that moment.
- With the way it turned out, did this one kind of remind anyone else of the win in New York last season?
- Nazr Mohammed played a terrific 17 minutes scoring eight points with six rebounds. But he didn’t see any time in the fourth quarter. On the surface, it doesn’t make a ton of sense, but who do you sit there? Ibaka? Collison, who was playing great? Obviously you could use him at power forward instead of Thabo Freaking Sefolosha during that one stretch in the fourth, but it’s not like it was a huge oversight.
- OKC won a game where it shot only 16 free throws. That’s kind of rare. And encouraging.
- The Thunder are 7-1 in overtime this year.
- Underrated play of the season: Russell Westbrook threw an alley-oop to Ibaka who missed it, but Westbrook flew it and nearly dunked it in himself. It was… impressive.
- James Harden was a bit more quiet in this one only scoring 11 points on 3-10 shooting. He had 10 in the first half but just couldn’t seem to find himself in the second.
- The Brian Davis Line of the Night: “Serge Ibaka standing naked under the basket!”
I love games like this where with about a minute left you’re all ticked and thinking about all the stupid things your team did give away a game. Then they make a shot. Then another. And before you know it they’re in overtime winning a game. It’s like Christmas. Just the fact that you won kind of wipes clean all the other stuff.
But it’s not like the Thunder beat a scrub. The Sixers are 21-11 at home and after starting 3-13, have gone 27-18. This is a really good win. Can you tell that I’m sort of trying to convince myself of that?
Next up: Back home against the Pistons Friday.