Game 31 Recap: Thunder (16-15) def. Hornets (13-21) 104-102 OTnatashapanchal.com

Game 31 Recap: Thunder (16-15) def. Hornets (13-21) 104-102 OT

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The Thunder beat the Hornets tonight the same way that Bismack Biyombo shoots free throws: ugly.

But when you’re playing an overtime game on the road 24 hours after your last game ended, you’ll take a win any way you can get it. Even if that means going 5-31 from the 3 point line. Even if that means going 19-31 from the free throw line. Even if your opponent is 13-20 coming into the game. Even if your opponent misses their first 18 3 point attempts.

Okay, this game isn’t going to go down in the Thunder annals of history, but the truth is, a road win on the second night of a back to back is always somewhat impressive. While the Thunder’s overall shooting numbers are an eyesore, there were more positives that came out of tonight’s victory than merely the W in the win loss column.

The continuing growth of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was once again on display in the clutch moments of a close game, and this time it was SGA’s defense that was a difference maker. While he nailed a couple of big baskets when the Thunder most needed them, it was Shai’s back to back steals in the exact same spot just 15 seconds apart that helped swing this game. The score was tied 87-87 with 1:45 left when Shai used his length to swat a Devonte Graham pass away and run the floor for a layup to take the lead. SGA then swiped a Terry Rozier pass with 1:30 left on the clock. Taking away two offensive possessions from the Hornets with under two minutes left in the game won’t show up in Shai’s clutch statistics, but those defensive plays are the definition of clutch.

Speaking of clutch, Chris Paul’s midrange jumper game has been a thing of beauty whenever the Thunder need a big bucket this season. Tonight, CP3 drained a 16-foot pullup jump shot with 48.9 seconds on the clock to give OKC a 91-87 lead, and after the Hornets hit a 3 on the other end, Paul nailed a 21-foot step back jumpshot for an important 93-90 edge with 17.3 seconds left in the game.

Despite a messy first 46 minutes, the Thunder played their best ball of the night in the final two minutes of the 4th quarter and an overtime period that wasn’t as quite as close as the score appears. The Hornets got two wild prayers answered from behind the 3 point line in OT, but the Thunder played well on both sides in the extra period.

Ultimately, the Thunder beat the Hornets tonight the same way that Steven Adams says “anomaly”: struggled for the first 90% of it, but came up clutch, pulled it out at the end and walked away laughing.

Notes:

  • The Thunder are once again over .500 again with a 16-15 record.
  • OKC has now won 5 of their past 6 games.
  • Amazingly, this rebuilding team is firmly in the 7 spot in the Western Conference, with a 2.5 game lead over the Trail Blazers and a 3 game lead over the Spurs.
  • I oohed and aahed over SGA’s clutch defense, but oh yeah, he also scored 27 points on 10-17 shooting.
  • Thankfully this game wasn’t in OKC or else fans would’ve had to stand for an awkwardly long amount of time before the Thunder scored their first points.
  • At one point in the first half, the Thunder actually ran a lineup of Schroder-Dort-Burton-Nader-Noel. The Oklahoma City Blue guest starring Dennis and Nerlens!
  • While I don’t think Nader or Burton are long for the Thunder (or the rest of the league), Dort looks like an NBA player. I’d love to see the Thunder find minutes for him somehow even when Diallo comes back.
  • Fun Friday night Thunder party game: Take a shot every time the Hornets miss a 3 point shot. Last person not in a coma by halftime wins.
  • Adams has been stuffing the stat sheet lately, and tonight was no exception. The Big Kiwi put up a 14/12/3/2/2 line on 6/9 (nice) shooting.
  • OKC’s three headed point guard attack and Gallo may grab all the attention, but Adams has been quietly excellent this season after a slow start.
  • The Thunder are now 3-1 without Danilo Gallinari this year, which is not at all a good representation of how much this team misses him when he’s out. This game doesn’t need to go to OT tonight if Gallo’s shooting, spacing and scoring are out there on the court.
  • Are all three of the Thunder’s point guards better than Charlotte’s starting point guard? I think so. CP3 and Shai go without saying. But I’d take Schroder over Rozier as well.
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is so good. And he’s gonna be even so gooder.
  • The Thunder were up 95-94 going into overtime. Which is the weirdest scoring update of all time.
  • Rozier threw the ball into the stands at the end of regulation because he thought the game was over and that the Hornets won. His b-ball brainfart resulted in a technical foul before OT tipped.
  • Thunder are now 3-0 in overtime games. If they could figure out how to end every regulation in a tie, OKC will be Finals bound.
  • This has nothing to do with the Thunder game, but the NBA’s official Twitter revealed their picks for the Top 20 dunks of the decade and Russell Westbrook didn’t have a single spot on the list. Adding insult to injury, Kevin Durant was on the list twice. C’mon.
  • Up next: at Toronto on Sunday. While the game seems tough, the Raptors are the walking dead right now so who knows how many of their starters and rotation players will be out against OKC.

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