I’m being completely honest when I say that it’s difficult to find words to describe last night’s fourth quarter. Yes, Gary Harris’ 25-footer extended OKC’s losing streak to two games, but let’s not focus on that from the outset. Instead we should be thanking the basketball gods for gracing us with those 12 minutes of unrivaled entertainment last night.
The NBA never disappoints. SO much happened in Denver on Thursday night. I did my best to wrap all of it up in one single tweet, but this doesn’t do it justice.
Paul George had 43 points, Russ had 21 assists, Jokic had a triple-double, Steven Adams died and resurrected, George hit a game-tying three, and then Gary Harris hit a buzzer beater while wearing George's shoes. The NBA is the best— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) February 2, 2018
Not mentioned in that tweet was Russ shoving a fan who was irrationally celebrating on the court after the final buzzer. Last night had a little bit of everything, and it was amazing. Sports can be so theatrical, and last night’s game really deserved to be on Broadway. I say this in the sincerest way possible, we should all be thankful for the NBA.
I get it, that’s probably difficult for some Thunder fans to swallow right now. This team clearly has a perimeter defense problem without Andre Roberson, but for now, let’s stop with the Roberson talk. At some point we’re going to have to stop playing the “what if we had Dre” game, and there’s no time like the present!
Paul George was ridiculous last night. He had 43 points on 19/26 shooting, and did basically everything for the Thunder until getting some help from Russ late in the game. Westbrook finished with 20 points, 21 assists, and 9 rebounds.
I was initially going to spotlight OKC’s ridiculous travel schedule and how it’s impacting their performance, but I’d be remiss to look past the insane sequence that unfolded in the final minute of last night’s game.
PG game-tying three:
ALMOST the game winner.— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) February 2, 2018
PG finishes with 43. pic.twitter.com/CHwzKR2HE0
Followed by the dagger:
Right after Paul George extracts the soul out of the Pepsi Center, GARY HARRIS AT THE BUZZER— Gary Wobris (@World_Wide_Wob) February 2, 2018
Nuggets win game of the year candidate pic.twitter.com/mKGEcCnxZh
OKC was down 20 and managed to make a game of it. The fact that they were even in this one was shocking, but this game went crazy with about two minutes left.
A lot happened on that final possession. First off, you have Nikola Jokic traveling as he shuffles his feet to get the pass in. Does that matter now? No. But it’s worth noting.
You then have Russ freezing as he focuses on the top of the key, completely losing Harris as he stretches to the perimeter.
There’s also Jerami Grant getting run over by Wilson Chandler for the potential offensive foul. “Run over” may be a little harsh, but it’s another element to the play nonetheless that helped create the space Harris needed to get the shot off.
And finally, you have Gary Harris playing Mr. Clutch for the Nuggets. Just an insane sequence to end this game.
Oh yeah, and Harris was wearing PG’s when he hit the game winner. You can’t make this stuff up.
- Terrance Ferguson started last night for the Thunder, but only played 4 first quarter minutes due to a stomach bug. Abrines filled in for the rookie, playing 28 minutes. He finished with 13 points and, more importantly, 2 BLOCKS.
- Russ had 4 free throw attempts on Thursday. He was the only Thunder starter to get to the charity stripe ... yikes.
- The difference maker came from long range last night. OKC had 9 treys compared to Denver’s 15.
- Steven Adams got dropped by Jamal Murray, yada yada yada, we don’t need to talk about that. In fact I didn’t see anything.
- Jerami Grant is proving his worth off the bench for Billy Donovan as long as he’s used correctly in the pick and roll game. He had 18 points on 6/9 shooting last night.
- Here’s Russ’ interaction with a fan after the final whistle:
This fan got a little too hyped in front of Russ pic.twitter.com/38kggJ5AIq— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 2, 2018
- And then there’s this:
Our plane number would be 666..— Patrick Patterson (@pdpatt) February 2, 2018
A Look Ahead
OKC’s tough travel schedule continues, as they’ll have to bounce back and face the Pelicans tonight at home. After that it’s the Lakers on Sunday at the ‘Peake before they head out west to face the Warriors on Tuesday.
Early in the fourth quarter last night, I’m sure Donovan considered just resting his starters on the front end of this back-to-back, but the bench unit managed to cut the deficit, thus eliminating that option. We’ll see how they fair coming off of this mile-high rollercoaster.