In the official NBA record books, this game will be listed as a loss.
But the ending of this game was a bunch of balderdash, poppycock, rubbish, bullhonkey, baloney, horseradish, and, most of all, something that I shouldn't mention.
Look, I'm never one to argue calls. When all of the fans stand up and boo in the Ford Center, I usually sit down, knowing that the refs do their best. And I'm not a conspiracy theorist, either. I know that sometimes, the refs make bad calls. They're human, like we all are. But why is something like this not reviewable? We can review whether something is a 2 or a 3, and we can review how much time is left on the clock. but we can't review a foul call at the end of the game? During New Year's Eve, Collison had a similar phantom foul call called on him, letting him win the game. Why can't these calls be reviewed, so we can get them right? In this day and age, such a thing is just baffling to me.
I've had some time to cool off after that last paragraph. And after writing the title. And after all of this cooling off, I've decided that I'm actually okay with this loss. People make mistakes, and bad calls go both ways.
But, most of all, you have to admire how the Thunder have handled this situation. After the call was made, everybody went to the locker room and focused on Denver really fast. It took me hours to accept this loss, so I have absolutely no idea how the players cooled off so fast and focused on the next game. I guess it's a learned trait.
Below: Recapping, Analyzing, Award Giving
Controversy aside, this was a fantastic game. Brian Davis called it a "dandy", and I couldn't agree more. If you didn't see the game, picture this. There's a bunch of guys playing really loud Jazz music. There's a light Thunderstorm outside, but nobody cared. Everybody is in a building, sitting, and chilling to this Jazz music that gets louder and louder. And just as it looks like the storm is about to dissipate, all of a sudden, you hear the loud rumble of THUNDER. Rumble bursts in through the door. Kevin Durant flies in through a window riding Pegasus. Lightning bolts utterly destroy the shack. Then, the jazz players get in an epic noise contest, since both of our team names center around noise only. Each team keeps escalating the noise, until the Jazz players enlisted the help of Aeolus, the Roman god of storms and winds, to destroy the Thunder. And thus, the Thunder was destroyed, and the Jazz players continued playing....jazz.
Remind me never to write a short story again.
In all seriousness, this game was actually not that exciting until the closing minutes of the fourth. It was pretty much an even battle until the half, when the Thunder started falling behind. Their offense was doing alright, but their defense was atrocious. As the Jazz increased the pace, the Thunder big men couldn't keep up, resulting in a consistently open lane. The only way the Thunder could make small comebacks on the ever-mounting Jazz lead was by slowing the game to a Trail Blazer-like pace, and even when they did that, the runs were just barely enough to keep the Thunder within striking distance.
Eventually, the Thunder were down 11 with 3:33 to go. Things were looking bleak, but then, well into the shot clock, Russell Westbrook hit a 3, giving us some hope. Then Kevin Durant completed an And 1. Then, he made 2 back to back 3s. Then, Russell Westbrook drew a foul and made both freethrows. This put us down by 1, with 1:46 to go. The Jazz promptly hit a 3 and got an easy dunk, regaining their lead. But then Kevin Durant hit an amazingly long 3. Then Jeff Green stole it and dunked it, putting the Jazz lead back to one with 24 seconds to go.
This meant the Thunder had to foul, and they fouled Wes Matthews. Predictably, he hit both free throws. This left the Thunder down 3 with 17 seconds to go. Jeff Green had it on the elbow, and he leaned in to try to draw a foul. The defender immediately ran off, leaving Green with a difficult lean-in three. He swooshed it. This tied it up. The Jazz would have a shot, but Deron Williams missed a jumper, and Wes Matthews got blocked while going in for a close shot. The Thunder had an inbounds with 1 second to go, but it just turned into a Kevin Durant turnaround three from nearly back court that missed.
Overtime began. Both teams played lockdown defense, and the lanes were completely clogged with players, forcing both teams to either get fouled or shoot contested, long-distance shots. Eventually, with the Thunder down by 1, Kevin Durant had the ball on the wing. He got challenged by CJ Miles, and lost his handle on the ball. He fell and had an amazing dish to Jeff Green, who took advantage of the temporarily stunned Jazz players to go in for a layup. Thunder up by 1, 5 seconds to go. The Jazz inbound it to Boozer, who sets a pick for Williams. Williams easily swishes the open jumper.
Then.....you saw what is below.
It's a controversy if I ever saw one. As I said above, I've come to accept it as it is.
Bad call? Yes.
Conspiracy? No. We're both small market teams, and the NBA would not like to see either of us succeed.
Influenced by the fact that we played in Salt Lake City? Maybe, but that's what home court advantage is for, I guess.
Before I conclude this recap, I'd just like to note the huge difference Mehmet Okur made in this game. When he was injured during the last game, the Jazz had to play a bunch of Kyrylo Fesenko. And they might as well have had a 7 foot pole out there. He did nothing offensively, scoring 4 points, and allowed the Thunder to score on him from wherever was convenient. And while Okur isn't a whole lot better defensively, he's in an entirely different echelon offensively. He added 20 Points, and without him, I honestly don't know where those extra 20 points would have come from. Thus, I'd just like to state for the record that Okur is a huge reason the Jazz were able to compete with us tonight.
On to the Awards....
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, 45 Points, 7 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 3 Turnovers, 2 Steals, 2 Blocks. Words can't describe KD's performance tonight. Simply off the charts. He almost single handedly brought the Thunder back into this game. Best performance of the year, and one of the best of his career. Congratulations, KD. You deserve this award more than ever.
Thunder Down Under: Jeff Green, 20 Points, 7 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 2 Turnovers, 2 Steals, 2 Fouls. How could this NOT be Jeff Green? Clutch three at the end of regulation, and a clutch layup near the end of Overtime. When KD is covered, this guy is always ready to step up. And, as ElectricPencils said, his clutchness is something to definitely be considered when we start talking trade again this off-season.
Thunder Blunder: Thabo Sefolosha's 0 Points. He did an alright job defending Wes Matthews, and he got some hustle stats, but a couple points here or there would have helped a lot. I would have given it to Russell Westbrook's 7 Turnovers, but pretty much everybody turned it over tonight.
Thunder Plunderer: Deron Williams, 42 Points, 10 Assists, 1 Turnover. He easily won the PG matchup, and he hit what turned out to be the game winning shot. He won this award both defensively and offensively, which is something that can't be said for Kevin Durant, sadly. A career performance for sure.
Next Game: Versus the Nuggets, Wednesday, April 7th, 7 PM Central Daylight Time.
Why the next game isn't being nationally televised is anyone's guess, but I kind of like lurking in the shadows.