Another exciting game! Another buzzer beater! Another celebration!
Too bad that this celebration is happening in New Orleans. After yet another clutch shot from David West, the Thunder had lost a close game on the road. There's no shame in losing to a team on a 9 game winning streak that's ahead of you in the standings, but it hurts to be so close. Anyway, here's how the game went.
In the first, the Thunder took a powerful lead. Somehow, the Thunder were able to constantly get out in transition, even if it was coming off of a slow Krstic rebound. Either Durant, Green, or Westbrook would run the floor and cut right through the Hornets' zone defense. When the Hornets finally wised up to it and played man-to-man, the Thunder's advantage was nullified, but they still had reasonable success by giving Durant isos, letting Westbrook dish to the open man after drawing a lot of defenders, and more drives to the basket.
Unfortunately the second quarter went in the complete opposite direction. At first, the Thudner were trading water, but the Hornets quickly picked up the slack defensively. Okafor was a force to be reckoned with in the lane, and the Thunder were committing turnovers left and right. Eventually, the Thunder couldn't get any shots to go, and free throws were clanking. The Hornets made a nice run at the end of the quarter capped off by a clutch jumper from Paul, and all of a sudden, the Thunder were down 5 heading into the half.
The Thunder managed to pick it up in the second half, though. The Hornets were committing errors like three second violations, bad passes, and blocking fouls that kept the Thunder in the game. Later on in the third, the Thunder got some great play out of Jeff Green, who was finally able to shoot his threes. The Hornets continues to find luck inside, leaving the game tied at 71 headed into the fourth.
Below: The Fourth Quarter, Awards!
The Thunder went on an 8-0 run early in the fourth, giving them the advantage down the stretch. The Hornets started to capitalize off of the Thunder's turnovers though, and the game was quickly leveled. The game turned into a see-saw battle, with the Thunder having a slight advantage, but the Hornets getting open shots in a much easier fashion. With one minute to go, the teams were still tied at 89. The Thunder had the ball and got a clean mid-range shot for KD, but he jumped into it too fast and it clanked off of the rim. The hornets got almost exactly the same opportunity for Marcus Thornton, but he clanked his shot as well. This gave the Thunder the ball with 14.4 seconds to go, and the game still tied at 89. Everyone felt deja vu, ready for another Durant buzzer beater. Collison got the ball on the inbounds and was wide open, but he was waiting for Westbrook to grab the ball. Unfortunately, Westbrook was sovered by Paul like glue, and Paul forced the steal and got fouled by Nick Collison in the process. The Hornets now had the ball, the game theirs to win. David West got the ball, with Ibaka guarding him one on one. He faced him down in the triple-threat position as Ibaka prepared for the drive. One dribble, some faking, and David West hit the jumper. The Hornets were up two with 0.5 seconds to go It was a bit of deja vu for old OKC Hornets fans, as David West had hit a shot with exactly that amount of time left to beat the Wizards in 2006. Could the old-school Oklahoma City Magic be brought back? Nope. Thabo Sefolosha threw the ball over Ibaka's hands, and the game was over.
Thunder Wonder: Jeff Green, 19 Points, 8-13 Shooting, 7 Rebounds
Thunder Down Under: Kevin Durant, 22 Points, 8 Rebounds, 4 Assists
Thunder Blunder: James Harden, 5 Points, 2 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 2 Turnovers
Thunder Plunderer: Chris Paul, 24 Points, 4 Rebounds, 9 Assists, 3 Steals
Next Game: At the Minnesota Timberwolves, Wednesday, January 26th, 7 PM Central Standard Time.