Thunder Journal: They Are Who We Thought They Werenatashapanchal.com

Thunder Journal: They Are Who We Thought They Were

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There’s an old saying, popularized by the James Bond movie Goldfinger, that goes, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is a pattern.”

When the Thunder lost by 1 point in overtime  on the road against LeBron James and the NBA champion Lakers without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and George Hill, it seemed very much like a fluke.

When the Thunder lost by 2 points on the road against Nikola Jokic and the Western Conference runner-up Nuggets without SGA and Hill, okay kinda crazy, but mostly just a small sample size of back to back over performing performances.

When the Thunder beat back to back MVP Giannis and the #2 seed Bucks without SGA and Hill, OKC finally convinced us all that’s just who this team is: no matter which players were on the floor, despite any talent level discrepancy, they would effort their way to close, competitive games.

Then Damian Lillard and his OKC colorways promenaded into The Peake and we all began to doubt Daigneault’s troop of try-hards.

After jumping to 20+ point leads over last season’s Western Conference Finals teams and last season’s Eastern Conference #1 seed, the Thunder got their script flipped by the Blazers. Portland pounced out to a 34-21 lead after the first quarter and their lead eventually ballooned to 24. Even the most sunshine pumpiest of Thunder fans conceded the run of close, nail-biting games against title contending teams was over. O me of little faith.

Though the weather outside was frightful, Lu Dort on fire is delightful. The undrafted sophomore defensive ace scored 8 points in a one and a half minute stretch near the end of the third quarter that put OKC in striking distance of the Blazers. Then a Dort 3 with 5:46 remaining in the final period completed the comeback and gave the Thunder their first lead since early in the first quarter. NBA.com’s #5 ranked Defensive Player of the Year was the Thunder’s leading scorer with 23 points. And just like Justin Jackson the game before and Kenrich Williams prior, Dort was the latest in the line of spin-the-wheel Thunder role player who stepped up to give a playoff team a Shai-less scare.

Despite the thrilling comeback, the clock on The Peake’s jumbotron read Dame Time. I won’t go into the nasty details of what followed because that man apparently gets his kicks and themes his kicks by hitting ridiculous (you could even say bad) shots against the Thunder. No need to dedicate more words to his infuriatingly favorite hobby.

Besides, this game marked the first time in Damian Lillard’s career he has beat Lu Dort. The official count is now 3-1 in favor of LD over DL. For Lu, those wins are a pattern. For Dame, this win is just happenstance.

Notes:

  • What this stretch of OKC games without SGA has proven: if the Thunder truly want to tank, they’re gonna have to trade for much lazier, try-less, give-up players.
  • Blazers fans already online pre-ordering Dame’s new orange and blue shoes dropping tomorrow morning.
  • Nobody told Lu Dort that Oklahomans were supposed to be conserving energy last night.
  • This Thunder team’s effort, fight, and resiliency is the living representation of those inspirational posters on your middle school teachers’ walls.
  • Up Next: SGA is back tonight against the Grizzlies.

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