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What a whirlwind week for Danilo Gallinari.
Just last Thursday, the eyes of the NBA world were focused directly on the Thunder’s sharpshooting big man as a trade to the Miami Heat seemed like a foregone conclusion. The deal ultimately fell through, and most OKC fans rejoiced at the thought of keeping the band together.
The next day, Loud City showed their appreciation by showering Gallo with his loudest starting lineup ovation since his move to Oklahoma City. You stay loyal to OKC, even if it’s just because Pat Riley refused to give you that third year of a big contract extension you’re seeking, and OKC will love you forever.
Five days later, he suffered through his worst game of the season. A home loss to the previously struggling Spurs may have been avoided if only Gallinari would’ve scored with his usually dependable efficiency. He was 4 of 16 for just 15 points as the Thunder dropped their second straight at home.
One week later, Gallinari reminded everyone why the Heat thought he could push them to contender status. He rebounded from the Spurs turd by scoring 29 points on 12 of 18 shooting. While the Thunder have relied on Chris Paul first, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander second and Dennis Schroder third to lead the team to victories in crunch time, tonight it was Gallo who did the heavy clutch time lifting. The former Armani model was the hottest man on the court down the stretch. He scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, including 9 in the final 3:52 of the game.
Tonight’s game had no shortage of storylines and memorable moments. The refs dialed up the superstar treatment for rookie sensation Zion Williamson in the foul call department. Meanwhile, the same refs rivaled the infamous Carmelo Anthony offensive foul ejection for worst ever flagrant foul call on a Dennis Schroder for landing close to a 3 point shooter. Williamson, who is somehow impossibly living up to the hype, scored a career high 32 points and had a Sportscenter Top 10 alley oop dunk. And then Steven Adams… hold on, this deserves its own paragraph.
And then Steven Adams hit the prettiest, smoothest, most nonchalant three fourths court shot of all time, followed by the funniest, most epic shimmy of all time. The halftime buzzer beater was Adams’ first 3 pointer of his career, and he did it in the most memorable way possible.
But Gallinari still deserves top billing for the night.
In a back and forth game that saw 22 lead changes, it was Gallinari who ensured the Thunder wouldn’t go into the All Star break on a 3 game losing streak. The next full week without OKC basketball was going to be filled for fans with a nagging sense of sadness, worry and doubt had the Thunder lost tonight. Instead, Gallo swung the momentum back to the positive side and will make the following 7 days a lot more enjoyable for the Oklahoma City faithful.
Really, this whole game recap was my longwinded way of saying this: the Thunder don’t win this game tonight if Danilo Gallinari was a member of the Miami Heat.
- The Thunder head into the All Star break as the 6 seed in the West.
- Pretty cool that the Thunder and Pelicans were the last scheduled NBA game before the All Star Break. But then the Clippers and Celtics had to steal the Thunder’s thunder by going into overtime and actually ending later, even though their game started 30 minutes earlier.
- Billy Donovan shortening his rotation so that the Thunder didn’t run a lineup with Nader-Ferguson-Diallo was all I wanted to see tonight. My wish was his command.
- Terrance Ferguson made a 3 tonight. Yes, this deserves a game note.
- Abdel Nader is the guy in pick up ball who shoots the ball every time he gets it. No ifs, ands or buts, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
- Steven Adams is the greatest quarterback of all time.
- After seeing Adams throw a basketball 75 feet with a simple flick of the wrist, I have no doubt that Steven could throw a football over them mountains.
- After KD leaving a sour taste in Thunder fans’ mouths for the shimmy due to his free throw shooting style, Adams’ greatest achievement tonight was making the shimmy great again.
- Mike Muscala is a solid rotation player. I know OKC views him as a center, but with the Thunder short on depth + bench shooters, I’d like to see him at the 4 spot with Bazley out.
- Dennis Schroder and Gallo were probably the two biggest reasons the Thunder lost to the Spurs on Tuesday. They were probably the two biggest reasons why the Thunder beat the Pelicans tonight.
- Between Lu Dort and Zion Williamson, has there ever been a game with featuring two opposing starters with a greater height to muscle mass ratio in the NBA?
- This was a great win. On the road, night before the All Star break, the Pelicans had won 3 in a row, the Thunder had dropped 2 straight, overcoming bad calls. OKC showed a lot of fight, grit and resiliency tonight. Par for the course this season.
- Up next: enjoying Shai compete in the Rising Stars Challenge and the Skills Challenge and Chris Paul in the All Star Game.
- Happy Valentine’s Day!