Can I say that again?
YES, YES, and YES! And no, I'm not talking about the Yankees television network. What was the most entertaining game I've seen in a while unexpectedly ended in triumph as the Thunder sank a clutch shot to send it to overtime and watched the Sixers miss show after shot.
But even though the Thunder did everything they needed to win this game, you have to question the way the 76ers were playing. Andre Igoudala constantly got the ball in the clutch, even though he was having a terrible game. They took five threes in overtime but didn't make a single one. Elton Brand had a whopping 15 rebounds, but only had 13 points, and seemed to be unwilling to find the open man when he was outmatched in the paint.
On the Thunder side of things, it could have been better. We allowed far too many threes from the Sixers, and we allowed them to get into transition offense too easily. On our offensive end, we did a generally good job of getting good looks, but we had way too many turnovers. Regardless, a win is a win, and this is one I especially like taking. Let's hit the recap.
The first quarter started off horribly, to put it lightly. The Thunder could hardly get anything going on offense, and once they committed a few costly turnovers, the 76ers took advantage in transition and took a quick 12-2 lead. The Thunder picked up things after that though, as the 76ers aren't very good in a half court offense, and the Thunder were hitting some tough mid-range jumpers. The game quickly became a jump shot contest, and the Thunder were winning, though the 76ers dominated the boards. The 76ers were eventually forced to sub out Spencer Hawes though, opening up the paint to Thunder attack. The Thunder could never take complete advantage though, because the 76ers were much quicker and would occasionally hit a jumper or drive to the basket. As a result, the 76ers had a decent lead of six at the end of the quarter, with a long three made and a three shot foul drawn by Lou Williams late in the first.
Below: The Second, Third, and Fourth Quarters, Overtime, Future Analysis, Awards!
The second saw another Thunder surge because they continued to take responsible shots, while the 76ers kept throwing up threes. The Thunder finally took the lead on a Collison jumper with 7:29 to go in the third, 41-40. The game proceeded a bit sluggishly from this point on, but the Thunder slowly built a lead while the 76ers committed a few turnovers. But, a few sluggish plays later, the 76ers caught back up on the heels of a couple of jumpers. From there, it was a race to the finish, with both teams scoring in the paint well. The game was tied at halftime, with Ibaka slamming in a nice dunk and Igoudala nailing a excellent tear drop layup.
In the third, the real game began. The game essentially evolved into a back and forth see-saw battle, with good scoring on both ends. Nearly every jumper was going in, like those grainy videos you see of foreign players who are selected in the NBA Draft. With about five minutes to go, the 76ers took a six point lead as the Thunder finally started to cool off, but the Thunder quickly re-tied the game at 78 with some excellent transition offense. The Thunder finished the quarter strong on a Kevin Durant four point play, leading the game 82-80 going into the break.
The fourth wasn't as exciting as the third was, but you could tell the intensity was rising between both teams. Lou Williams continued to be instrumental for Philadelphia, but the team was cold and missing several shots. Meanwhile, the Thunder were committing terrible and frequent turnovers, eventually leading to a four point Philadelphia lead with around five minutes to go. It was short lived, as Durant hit a open jump shot on the next possession, but it set the tone for the end of the game as Philadelphia kept a constant, if small, lead. The 76ers almost shut the door after a big three late in the fourth which put the Sixers up by five. The Thunder had three opportunities to eat into the lead, and they finally scored on the third time, with Durant driving into the paint and rolling in a odd shot. On the other end, the 76ers ate up as much clock as they could, and Igoudala's shot went way short. After the timeout, Durant got a nice pick off of Ibaka, and drained an easy looking three. After everyone was done celebrating, the 76ers gave Igoudala an isolation play at the top of the key. He dribbled into the paint and ran right over James Harden, prompting a charging call and giving the Thunder the ball with 1.9 seconds to go. KD got an opportunity on an inbound three, but it clanked off of the back of the rim, and the game went to overtime.
Overtime saw the game get a lot more physical. Both teams initially traded baskets, but the Thunder took a quick three point advantage on two great plays near the basket, while Andre Igoudala committed a turnover. After some more pandering, Serge Ibaka blocked a shot, but it luckily landed in the hands of Elton Brand, who made a quick shot, cutting the lead to one. Durant immediately responded with a jumper on the other end, bringing the lead back to three.The 76ers tried to respond with a three, but they failed on three consecutive attempts, and Westbrook nailed a jumper from the top of the key off of a screen. The 76ers tried to shoot another three, but they missed two more consecutive attempts and gave up as the Thunder rebounded the ball, sealing the game. It just goes to show that no matter how many times you rebound the ball, if you can't hit the broad side of a barn, you can't win the game.
This win gives the Thunder the season series, 2-0. It's a great series win over a tough East team, and San Antonio, Chicago, and Denver can't say they've done the same thing. We get our magical 40th win and are three and a half games ahead of Denver in the division standings. We are five games behind the Lakers, and probably aren't going to catch up to them, but it's always nice to check. The 76ers are pretty firmly entrenched in the seventh seed in the East, but this loss puts them 1.5 games back of the sixth seeded Knicks.
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, 34 Points, 16 Rebounds, 2 Assists.
Thunder Down Under: Nick Collison, 13 Points, 10 Rebounds, 1 Steal.
Thunder Blunder: James Harden, for two bad turnovers and a couple missed shots down the stretch.
Thunder Plunderer: Jrue Holiday, 22 Points, 4 Rebounds, 8 Assists, 3 Steals.
Next Game: Versus the Detroit Pistons, Friday, March 11th, 7 PM Central Standard Time.