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Legend has it, Damian Lillard broke up the Thunder two years ago when he hit the logo goodbye shot. Ironic, then, that Dame would be the one person who could unify the Thunder fanbase this season.
All season long, Team Tank and Team Compete have feuded and will continue to feud after each victory and defeat.
Speaking of da feet, just one day after the news dropped that Dame is releasing a shoe in celebration of beating the Thunder in the 1st round of the 2019 playoffs, a 125-122 conquest of the Blazers is the one OKC win that even tankers can agree is acceptable.
Sure, it’s possible this one win will cost OKC the likes of Cade Cunningham or Jalen Suggs, but that’s a worry for another day. All Thunder fans were worried about Monday night was swift justice for SneakerGate. The shoe memes and social media hijinks alone were worth losing a few percentage points on the Fade4Cade lottery odds.
Speaking of odds, what were the chances that the Thunder could beat Dame and the 4th seeded Blazers on the road? OKC was without Al Horford or George Hill. Mike Muscala, at the ripe old age of 29, was the oldest rotation player.
OKC rolled out the seventh youngest starting lineup in NBA history.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (22), Theo Maledon (19), Lu Dort (21), Darius Bazley (20), Isaiah Roby (22). Roby was the oldest player in the starting lineup. When he was born, the #1 movie at the box office was Titanic. The Blazers were starting Carmelo Anthony, who is 36 years old. Every Thunder starter was closer to Melo’s son’s age than Melo’s age.
To be fair, the Blazers were beat up, too. The home team was missing CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Robert Covington and Rodney Hood. But no excuses. Portland still had at the very least as much talent, if not more, than Thunder High. And with Lillard, they still had the best player on the court.
Or did they?
With both teams shorthanded, this game was basically Shai vs Dame. And just like he did recently against Paul George, Jamal Murray and Zach Lavine, SGA thoroughly outplayed his much more celebrated counterpart.
Shai scored 24 points on 8-12 shooting, including 3-4 from 3. He grabbed 9 rebounds, dished 6 assists, blocked 2 shots and had 1 steal.
Dame scored 26 points on 8-22 shooting including 3-12 from 3. He grabbed 6 rebounds, dished 10 assists, blocked 0 shots and had 0 steals.
But Shai had a cheat code named Lu Dort.
Dort has been dubbed the James Harden stopper, but Lillard’s name is on Lu’s Billy Madison list as well. Lillard has faced Dort three times. Lillard has lost against Dort three times. With the game on the line, Lillard tried his best to get off a game-saving shot. He pulled out every move in his bag, but Dort matched him step for step, jab for jab, fake for fake. The refs blew the whistle, like they do so many times for a superstar. But upon review, they saw what everyone watching at home–including Blazers fans–saw: it was perfect Dort D. Ball game.
Dame’s lame loafers had Thunder fans seeking some John Wick justice. Lillard may have ended the Russell Westbrook and Paul George era of OKC basketball, but as long as Lu lives in the 405, the only thing Dame will be waving goodbye to is the idea of any more commemorative Thunder shoes.
- The Thunder solved their offensive efficiency issues: play more games against Dame, Kanter and Melo.
- The new streak begins: Lu Dort hit a 3.
- Mike Muscala scored 23 points, one off his career high, and hit 6-10 from 3. How many playoff teams could use a 7 footer who can hit five 3s in a half?
- Shai hit a contested 31 foot 3 pointer. He hardly ever shows off his range, but it’s obvious the few times he has that SGA can shoot from Dame deep. He just needs the shoe line to prove it.
- Dort gets two fouls called on him per game for just being too strong.
- At what point do we stop calling Shai a rising star and just call him a star?
- Poku was 2-4 from 3. Damian Lillard was 3-12 from 3. Small sample size, but it’s clear here who’s the elite shooter.
- Zero chance Lillard hits that logo goodbye shot if Dort was defending him instead of Paul George.
- Can’t get over Lillard trying every move possible to shake loose of Dort to get an open 3, and couldn’t do it. Sam Presti needs to include that clip when he submits Dort for Defensive Player of the Year.
- Mike Muscala: “I can’t say enough about Coach Mark and the coaching staff.” We are hearing Thunder players talk more and more glowingly about Daigneault as the season goes on.
- Next up: CP3 and the Suns on Wednesday night. SGA vs his mentor. Poor Chris.