I mean, that game.
From strutting around your living room holstering your fingers and snarling like you’re Russell Westbrook, to lying flat on your back feeling like someone just dropped a piano on your windpipe, all in 2.3 seconds. From an incredibly impressive split on a rough back-to-back, to 0-2 against two of the Western Conference’s elites. From happy, to sad. Just like that.
Them’s just the breaks sometimes. The Thunder were about to pull off an incredible fourth quarter comeback against the Warrior juggernaut, pulling out of a 14-point hole with 7:11 left to take the lead on a Westbrook missile from 30 feet. But Andre Iguodala had an answer, a turnaround on the baseline in Thabo Sefolosha’s face to suck all the air right out of the Thunder.
It’s a funny thing how a game that had so much going on in it came down to two simple plays. In a game where there was outrageous offense, incredible shot-making and filthy plays all over, it doesn’t feel like any of that is worth even talking about because of what happened in those final 2.3 seconds. That should tell you how completely insane the finish to this one was.
But kudos to the Thunder for nearly pulling one out that they had no business pulling out. The resiliency this team plays with is incredible, never saying die in any situation. The Thunder hung around just enough in the fourth to finally put together a run, sparked mostly by Reggie Jackson. After six straight points, Jackson set up Ibaka for a bucket, then Westbrook made a free throw, Jackson dropped a jumper and then Durant splashed a deep 3 to cut it to eight with 5:30 left. At that point, it was game on.
Scott Brooks was searching for something that worked defensively, and eventually settled on what I think is OKC’s best lineup — Westbrook, Jackson, Sefolosha, Durant and Ibaka. Durant was being protected with five fouls, but he played David Lee straight up and relied on Ibaka to crash over from the weakside. The Thunder started stringing together stops, Thabo hit a big time 3, Ibaka finished a huge and-1 and Jackson got to the rim and got a tough layup to go down.
The Thunder did so much right in the fourth quarter to fix a lot of what went wrong when the Warriors pulled away. You can point at the Thunder’s soft defense and how they shouldn’t have gotten down by 14 in the first place, but when a team is shooting the way the Warriors were, it’s incredibly hard to keep pace with that for 48 minutes. The Thunder did for a lot of it, but eventually, things started to get away a bit.
But once the Thunder found that little spark of life, they clawed back in and had it won. You can look at these last two games three ways: 1) be encouraged because of how tight they were and that the Thunder had great chances to score two wins on the road against two outstanding teams on consecutive nights; 2) be disappointed because the Thunder now only have wins against the teams they’re supposed to have beat, with losses to the Clippers, Wolves and Warriors; or 3) remember it’s November and just realize you watched some great basketball.
- It almost just didn’t feel fair the way the Warriors scored. It wasn’t like the Thunder were that inept defensively. It was just that the Warriors made everything they got a look at. Oh, and the fact they only turned it over seven times made it entirely unfair. Give a team that many extra possessions and you’re in some doodoo.
- The Warriors were 12-14 from 3 at one point. They hit just two of their last nine, but still, 14-23 from deep is pretty wild.
- Scott Brooks gambled leaving KD in to start the fourth with four fouls. And KD picked up his fifth just 14 seconds in. With the game slipping, Brooks brought him back with 8:54 left, along with Westbrook. It worked out.
- Serge Ibaka was the best player on the floor tonight. And that’s saying something. He was beastly on both ends and on the boards, pulling in 13 rebounds to go along with a career-high 27 points.
- KD had a weird game. He started 4-4 with six assists, but missed seven straight and almost went the entire third without scoring. He finished 5-13 from the floor for 20 points, with eight assists and seven rebounds.
- On Westbrook’s 3: I was OK with the idea of not calling timeout because it had the Warriors scrambling and the Thunder don’t have a great history with scoring in crunchtime out of timeouts. But the shot itself wasn’t a very good one.
- When Curry or Thompson miss a 3, it’s the same feeling as when Thabo makes one.
- Steven Adams played 14 minutes and didn’t pull in a single rebound. That’s not good, but he does have a decent excuse — there were very few rebounds available because everyone was making everything.
- Jeremy Lamb came out gunning. He scored nine points in 18 minutes and finished 3-9. He hit three of his first four from deep, but took some contested looks after that.
- Reggie Jackson was just spectacular. He had 12 points, three assists and five rebounds. He needed more than 22 minutes.
- What is Charles Barkley even talking about? He kept saying “you can’t survive on those” as Durant, Curry, Westbrook and Thompson splashed jumpers. Hey, heads up: You can. And teams haven’t just survived on that, they’ve flourished. Hey, Chuck and Shaq: The Warriors tried to feed David Lee in the post late, and it didn’t work. I think they probably would’ve been better off letting Curry and Thompson chuck those jumpers.
- Warriors fans ooh and ahh at any kind of dribbling.
- Westbrook with easily his best game since returning: 31 points on 13-20 shooting, nine rebounds and five assists. And he almost had his first game-winner.
- As a team, the Warriors shot 48-61-86 tonight. At one point in the second half, they were 55-70-100.
- The Thunder dominated the boards, but still struggle a bit on the defensive glass with the small lineup late. Two offensive rebounds for the Warriors turned into two critical points.
- Klay Thompson’s release is the quickest in the league. It’s ridiculous how fast he can put a shot up. His posture and elbow alignment are so perfect that no matter where he catches a pass, he can get a shot off immediately. Incredible ability.
- Jeremy Lamb’s goal: Be Klay Thompson.
- Australia 1, New Zealand 0.
- The Thunder’s starting five got absolutely torched. The Warriors posted an offensive efficiency of 164.0 in 14 minutes against the starters.
- KD picked up his first technical of the season right before halftime after he slapped away Bogut’s hand. And he was close to getting tossed a few different times in the second half.
- I’ve seen more than one gripe tonight about the Thunder’s offense. Seriously? 115 points and an offensive efficiency of 117.0 isn’t good enough for you? The Thunder lost this game for two reasons: 1) defense and 2) the Warriors didn’t miss anything.
- “I like the kid Allen, Steven Allen from Pittsburgh…” — Charles Barkley
- I’ve seen a bunch of griping about Thabo’s defense on the last play. It wasn’t the best contest on Iguodala, but come on, that’s just a great shot. Thabo’s mistake was not forcing Iguodala’s catch to be tougher, because the shot itself was a severely fading baseline jumper. Nobody’s getting a great contest on that.
Next up: At the Bucks on Saturday