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I didn’t expect a late Monday night game in November between the rebuilding Thunder and the G League Warriors to become a candidate for Thunder game of the year, but here we are.
For most of the game, it looked more likely to be a frontrunner for Thunder dud of the year, with the Bizarro Warriors leading by double digits for a good portion of the second half. And when the Who’s That Guy Warriors took a 10 point lead with 3:18 left in the final quarter, it looked like I was going to have to eat crow for calling tonight’s game a bye.
But then Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schroder, Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams clamped down on D and played smart, pass-first offensive basketball that generated great shots. The Wounded Warriors never scored again, and OKC ended the game on an impressive, exciting 13-0 run to escape the new Chase Center with their first road win of the season.
Sure, maybe long term all this does is just help Golden State finish with a better draft pick than OKC, but this game is meant to be fun and entertaining. And a flurry of 3s followed by a clutch Russ-esque in bounds steal and fast break layup by Shai and ultimately a game winning floating jumper by CP3 is fun and entertaining. Especially when it’s against the Warriors. Even if it’s just the Keanu Reeves Replacements Warriors.
- If the Thunder lost this game, I was going to float a conspiracy theory that I think would actually be a brilliant master plan by OKC: lose all the road games (that’s a guaranteed 41 losses and ensures lots of lottery balls), but make all the home games are close and exciting and win a lot of them, so Thunder fans still fill the seats. But they had to go and mess it up with a road victory.
- The Thunder threw a Block Party in The Bay tonight and every Warrior RSVP’ed. OKC finished with an incredible 13 blocks, including five by Nerlens Noel.
- Fitting the game would end on a blocked shot by the Thunder.
- This game reminded me of when you’re playing against your sister’s kids in the driveway and you are just kinda messing around until the score is 18-4 and then you decide to take it seriously and score 17 straight for the clutch 21-18 win. Now go make me a sandwich, nephew.
- If you would’ve told me before the season started that the Thunder would be 3-0 against a Warriors team boasting Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and D’Angelo Russell on their roster, I would’ve thought Russ and PG were humming with a healthy Andre Roberson and headed towards one of the top seeds in the West.
- Abdel Nader was the G League Rookie of the Year in 2017. So he should have felt comfortable and dominated against this Warriors squad.
- He did not.
- Steven Adams followed up his Kiwinaissance against the Lakers with another good game, finishing with a 10-10-5-3 line. The double double stands out, as do the 3 blocks, but the 5 assists is the big takeaway here. After averaging 1 assist a game for his career, Adams is up to 2.9 per game this season, including 5 straight games with 4 or more. A couple of them tonight were of the flashy eyeballs emoji variety.
- Chris Paul pulled a Steph Curry from the Thunder logo from the Warriors logo. The three point half court halftime heave ended up being the difference in the game.
- Darius Bazley continues to ride the rookie home and away rollercoaster.
- The Warriors shot tonight like… well, the Warriors.
- I clowned them in this article, because you gotta take the opportunity while the dynasty Warriors are down to have some laughs at their expense, but in all seriousness, the guys from Golden State deserve a lot of credit. It’s a rag tag Bad News Bears bunch of backups, journeymen, youngsters and G League players, and they competed extremely hard and hit a lot of shots. Impressive showing, especially from Ky Bowman, Glenn Robinson III, Eric Paschall and Jordan Poole.
- A lot of teams in OKC’s position in the standings would’ve hung it up down double digits with three minutes left and waved the white flag. Instead, the Thunder dug in, went incredibly hard defensively, played smart, and emptied the tank to secure a win. It may seem meaningless considering the opponent and the goals for this season being rearranged, but SGA fighting and making big clutch plays on the road just unlocks another achievement for the young Thunder building block: winning close games.