Box Score: OKC 118 – LAC 112
The Thunder did it again! After being down by as many as 18 points to the Kawhi-less Los Angeles Clippers, the Thunder came back and won the game. If this is starting to sound familiar, it should! This is the third time in the past four games that the Thunder have come back from a huge deficit and it is their fourth 15-point comeback this season.
Similar to the other comebacks, this one featured another huge night from Dennis Schröder, who made a strong case for his consideration for Sixth Man of the Year. There was a point near the end of the game where the reigning 6MOY, Lou Williams, and Schröder were trading baskets like two boxers exchanging blows. In the end, Schröder was victorious and in my opinion, unseated Lou Williams for 6MOY front-runner. Tonight’s game was the twelfth game in a row in which Schröder had 17+ points off the bench. He finished the night with 28 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and several of the Thunder’s go-ahead points in the final 3 minutes of the game.
In addition to Schröder’s big night, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had himself a career-high 32 points on 12-25 shooting from the field and 2-3 from distance. After the game, Clippers Coach Doc Rivers praised Shai for his growth over the past year, especially on the defensive end:
Steven Adams nearly recorded a 20-20 night with 20 points and 17 rebounds. And of course, my hero, Darius Bazley, played one of the best games of his young career tonight. He put up 7 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals all the while showing no fear while guarding one of the best players in the league in Paul George.
Speaking of Paul George, Thunder fans did the right thing and did not boo Paul George with the same caliber as some other player(s), who actually deserved to be booed. His starting lineup introduction was met with 90% loud cheers while the jumbotron showed footage of Paul George volunteering in the Oklahoma City community. It was a pretty smart move by the Thunder PR staff because it’s pretty hard to boo a guy who is handing out Christmas presents to children. George finished the night with 18 points and 3 assists, but it was ultimately not enough to overcome the Thunder’s late fourth-quarter push. The Clippers as a team recorded 15 turnovers with George being responsible for 5 of those. Though Terrance Ferguson did not score any points, he was largely responsible for making Paul George’s life extremely difficult. A sort of “student becomes the teacher” moment.
After the game, however, George had nothing but positive things to say about his time in OKC and even called OKC one of the best organizations he’s had the opportunity to play for.
George also spoke about the difference between last season and this season in terms of his health. Makes you wonder what could’ve been if George was healthy last season:
All in all, tonight’s win was huge for this Thunder team. It is their seventh win in the past nine games and they have officially improved to an over .500 record. They currently sit at the seventh seed in the Western Conference with a 1.5-game lead on the Portland Trailblazers.