The Oklahoma City Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers needed three extra periods to decide a winner on Friday night. As the dust settled, it was the Thunder that came out on top with a 119-117 victory. Both teams showed tremendous resiliency and grit, both fought back from deficits throughout the night. It was the NBA's first multiple overtime game of the season. The Thunder get back .500 with the victory and it was their 3rd straight road victory.
Andre Roberson had multiple opportunities to convert layups in the overtime sessions. The defense continued to let him roam, while focusing on helping on Russ, PG, and Melo. In the 3rd overtime, with the game on the line, Westbrook put his trust into Roberson again and found him for a reverse layup that put the Thunder up.
In need of a stop, the Thunder defense put together an outstanding defensive possession to seal the deal. The Sixers wanted to go for the victory and they ran a play to get JJ Redick open off of a screen from Embiid. The Thunder's switching prevented Redick from getting a clean look and he had to force up a shot that was block by Patrick Patterson's outstretched hand.
The Thunder had their opportunities to win this game in regulation. They led by double-digits late in the second half and into the 4th quarter. The Thunder led 94-83 with 5:20 remaining after a layup by Raymond Felton. The layup by Felton would be the last points of regulation for the Thunder, as the Sixers put in 11 in a row to take the game into overtime.
In the first overtime, the Sixers seemed poised to runaway with the game after scoring six in a row. The score 102-97 in favor of the Sixers with 1:21 left, then George nailed a three to pull the Thunder within two. A strong Thunder defensive possession led to a mid-range pullup in transition from Westbrook to tie the game at 102. The Sixers ran a play to get Embiid isolated on the block, but Adams and the Thunder's help defense at the rim forced a tough shot from Embiid. Embiid was moving gingerly up the court, but found a second wind to reject Westbrook at the rim. The ball last touched Russ and went to the Sixers. Dario Saric shot a contested three due to a great recovery from Melo and the game went into double overtime.
In the second overtime, the Thunder opened up going to Melo again and again Melo delivered scoring the opening points of double overtime. Westbrook found a rhythm with his jump shot in the overtime, hitting a three to put them up one, and then hitting a mid-range pull-up to break a tie with 1:33 remaining. Embiid knotted the game up again at 111 with a finger roll after getting by Adams. On the next Thunder possession, Westbrook missed a pull-up and gave the Sixers a chance to win it. Embiid was isolated on the block again, but the Thunder defense forced a turnover. Tied at 111, Westbrook found Roberson under the basket for a reverse layup but left it short as time expired.
In the third overtime, it was clear that many players started to get fatigued. While players started to become tired, Westbrook seemed to hit his second wind. Westbrook was the Thunder's offense in the third overtime. He put the team on his back and carried them to the finish line. However, when it was time to get across the finish line, Westbrook had no problem dishing the ball to Andre Roberson to put the finishing touches on the Sixers for the win.
It was night full of fun matchups all over the court. The battle inside between Joel Embiid and Steven Adams was outstanding, watching Paul George defend Ben Simmons was fun, and also seeing Simmons defend Russell Westbrook was a definite intriguing night of matchups. Multiple players played 40+ minutes on the night, even some exceeding 50.
The Thunder shot 41% from the field and connected on 15 threes. They won the rebound battle 60-50, doing most of the damage on the offensive boards. The Thunder also forced 21 turnovers and scored 15 points off the Sixers turnovers. Also, the Thunder only shot 10 of 19 (53%) from the free throw line.
Melo was outstanding all night with an efficient 24 points. George also came alive with 24 points on 8-of-23 shooting. Westbrook had his 10th triple-double of the season with 27 points, 15 assists, and 18 rebounds. Adams played 51 minutes before fouling out in the 3rd overtime with 5 points and 11 rebounds. Felton scored a season-high 14 points off the bench. The Thunder bench scored 35 points on the night.
Embiid fought through a back injury and led the Sixers with 34 points and 8 rebounds. Redick chipped in 19 points and Simmons had 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 11 assists.
The Thunder return to action tomorrow night in Melo's return to Madison Square Garden in a game against the New York Knicks.