Wow, what a comeback for the Thunder.
This game was truly a tale of two halves — the first half showing how a tanking Thunder team would look like and the second half showing what a playoff Thunder team would look like. Chris Paul getting hot from three in the fourth quarter helped seal the franchise’s biggest comeback win in a game where they were trailing by as much as 26 points.
OKC’s first half was flat out awful. They were trailing 68-49 in a half that saw sloppy and careless basketball. The Thunder committed 14 TOs while the Bulls shot 58.3% from the field in the half with a ton of those points coming in the fast break. A big reason why the Bulls were able to grow such a lead was the fact that they had more shot attempts than the Thunder in the first half, 48 to 34. When a team is taking an extra 14 shots, that creates more opportunities to score and grow leads.
This game looked bleak at half, the only OKC player that showed up was Danilo Gallinari who had 17 first half points. This game was heading towards a third straight loss for OKC.
And then the second half started. OKC flipped the script and started playing better and more disciplined on both sides of the floor. The OKC defense allowed just 38 points on 38.5% shooting from the Bulls. The Thunder outscored the Bulls 60-38 in the second half behind a 28 point half for Paul, who was scorching hot in the fourth.
The fourth quarter was some vintage Chris Paul stuff, as he played the entirety of the quarter, scoring 19 points, which included going 5-6 from three.
This game was close until the end. With the score tied at 106-106, OKC had the ball with 4.3 seconds left before Steven Adams got fouled on an inbound pass. The team was in the bonus so Adams went to the line with a chance to take the lead, and the Bulls had to go full court in less than five seconds due to them not having anymore timeouts left.
Adams banked in the first free throw attempt, but bricked the second one. The Thunder got the lucky bounce when the ball ricochet back to Adams, and he grabbed the offensive rebound that basically sealed the game. Chris Paul free throws ended it.
Overall, this was a historic comeback and fun game in a win that this team needed after dropping the last two. The Thunder could’ve easily packed it in at half but instead chipped the lead away and ultimately won the game. This performances speaks volumes of this team’s character, they aren’t the most talented bunch but they aren’t pushovers either and will compete in most games they’re in.
Terrance Ferguson returned after missing the last five games due to an injured hip, and was great tonight. Ferguson was active on defense, and finished with 12 points on 4-7 from three before he fouled out.
OKC went 23-28 (82.1%) from the line tonight. Remember how bad the Thunder used to be with free throws in previous seasons? That’s not the case this season — OKC is 8th in the league in Team FT% at 79.8%.
Dennis Schroder also was great tonight, scoring 18 points on 7-12 shooting with five assists. Schroder continues to add to his Sixth Man of the Year campaign with another solid performance. ESPN reported yesterday that Schroder’s market will be active with the Timberwolves being one team who will call in. How funny would it be for Jeff Teague to lose his starting job again to Dennis Schroder?
I always thought Zach LaVine is one of the more under-appreciated players in the league. I don’t think LaVine gets enough love when discussing the best high volume scorers on bad teams. Devin Booker is the poster child, but LaVine should get some discussion as well. LaVine finished with 39 points on 15-25 shooting tonight, and he was the only Bull who showed up in the second half. LaVine is averaging 22.6 PPG on 56.2 TS% in his fifth season in the league. I can’t believe LaVine is in his fifth season already and he’s just 24 years old.
You can’t have the future of your franchise be an afterthought on offense, but that was the case tonight with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He only took three shots in 34 minutes. That’s just unacceptable. I know Paul and Schroder have been playing great recently, but you have to involve the young guard more. He is too talented to be taking less shots in a game than Abdel Nader.