The Thunder took to the floor again tonight with their top two leading scorers, Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, on the bench, nursing injuries. Early on, it looked like they might miss them tonight, as they got out to a bit of a slow start. The action was kind of "ho-hum" early, and by the end of the first quarter the Thunder were trailing, but only by 4 points, which turned into six after an instant replay ruling of the final shot, which lead to two free throw attempts (shooting foul on Swift) and two points for the Wizards.
The Thunder really began to take over the game in the 2nd quarter as the starters, including Thabo Sefolosha started making their way back onto the court, relieving the rather odd looking rotation of Swift, Wilkins, Rose, Watson, and Weaver. The Thunder defense began to make buckets really hard to come by for the Wizards, and at the other end of the court really started shooting well. At one point they showed both teams shooting percentages for the quarter and the Thunder were a solid 25 percantage points higher. Oklahoma City would finish out the quarter and half with a solid 1 point lead, considering that they started so sluggish and trailed by 6 after one.
Oklahoma City came out of the locker room quickly after the half, and had a nice scoring run to start the 3rd quarter. But it wasn't long before the Wizards crept right back to within about 5 or so points, which remained pretty standard throughout the third. The big difference came very late in the third when Wilkins scored two 3 point bombs on back to back possessions to take a 4 point lead and turn it into ten. Needless to say the Wizards immediately took a timeout. The timeout did its job as the Wizards were able to get 4 quick points back and cut the lead to 6. The Thunder took a 68-62 lead into the 4th quarter. It just seems like through all the small swings during the quarter, the lead seemed to hover around the 4-6 point mark.
The 6 point Thunder lead evaporated rather quickly early in the 4th as the only starter on the floor for the Thunder was Russell Westbrook. The lead might not have gone away so quickly had it not been for an absolutely terrible charge call on Malik Rose as he drove to the basket for a layup and what I thought was a +1 situation. I really have no idea what the ref's saw because the guy wasn't even close to having his feet set, and all the contact was initiated by the defender anyway. It was ridiculous, and the Wizards went down the court and scored a bucket competing the 5 point swing. Thanks a lot greyshirts, instead our normal five point lead, it was tied at 72 with about 8 minutes to play.
From there the Wizards would open up to a 4 point lead before Brooks had to call timeout to refocus our young players on the task at hand. That came at the 7 minute mark, with the Thunder trailing 72-76. Kyle Weave came right out and knocked down a 3 pointer to bring the deficit back to 1. Weaver is really starting to come into his own while Durant and Green are out. The teams would remain close over the next few minutes, and finally a rather quiet (for Loud City standards) crowd started getting loud and into the action.
With just under two minutes to go, the Thunder trailed by one when a break was started by a Krstic rebound and finished by an amazing layup by Thabo Sefolosha to give the Thunder a one point lead. With under 30 seconds to go, the Thunder came out of a timeout and Russell ran the clock down a bit, then hit a pull up jumper that would give the Thunder a 3 point lead and make the fans in the Ford Center to go crazy! After a tremendous defensive effort, Krstic ended up with the ball, and got fouled with just 10 seconds to go, knocked down both free throws, giving the Thunder a 5 point lead, and ultimately the win.
It was once again a total team effort, and what is more impressive is that the Thunder did not have a single player score more than 18 points. Everyone contributed, everyone played hard, and everyone on this basketball team truly played together to make history, giving the franchise its first ever 3 game winning streak. Who would have ever thought they'd get their first 3 in a row set of wins without Kevin Durant, and without Jeff Green for two of those as well. We all hated to see those two guys go down with injuries, but what it has done for this team is indescribable. Next time you look up the word "team" in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of this Thunder squad. Hell of an effort. I love this team!