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Thunder win Game of the Year candidate against Timberwolves, 139-127

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NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Man, what a crazy win in what is an early candidate for Thunder game of the season. Neither team’s defense played well and the offenses excelled in a game that saw seven lead changes and 13 ties. This was a close game through three quarters, with the score being 97-94. The fourth quarter was a tale of two parts, the first part being the Thunder building a double digit 113-103 lead just for them to blow it in less than five minutes. The Wolves rallied to take a 121-119 lead with just 17 seconds left but Jordan Bell was called for a delay of game because Chris Paul pointed out how his jersey was untucked. Gallinari hit the technical free throw to make it a one point game. Karl Anthony Towns was fouled with 1.1 seconds left and made both free throws to extend the Wolves lead back to a two point, 122-120, lead. Most people assumed that Towns was going to intentionally missed the second free throw to give the Thunder no chance to put up a shot but instead he made it. Wolves coach Ryan Saunders pointed out post game how Towns was supposed to miss the second free throw but made it accidentally. Steven Adams was able to throw a Hail Mary to Dennis Schroder who was running with momentum to the basket and made the transition layup with Towns, ironically, on his tail. The Thunder rode the momentum of that shot all through overtime, where they dominated the five minute session 17-5 to seal this unlikely win. For the first time in franchise history, OKC had five 20 point scorers and I’ll speak about each of their games in detail below.

Chris Paul had his best performance this season tonight. After only taking nine shots in each of his past three games, Paul was much more assertive this game in the scoring department. Paul finished with a season high 30 points on 11-20 shooting along with seven assists. Paul was great tonight and a maestro to a masterpiece of an offensive performance. Paul had the highest USG% on the team tonight at 25.3.

After struggling for the past few weeks, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander looked like the player he was early on in the season. Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 29 points on 8-13 shooting in 42 minutes of action tonight, which includes scoring 11 points in overtime alone. Gilgeous-Alexander looked absolutely great tonight, having arguably his best game since being traded to the Thunder. Gilgeous-Alexander was the best player in overtime sharing the court with Multi-Time All Stars Chris Paul and Karl Anthony Towns. Gilgeous-Alexander was perfect from the free throw line at 12-12 as well.

Dennis Schroder is such a polarizing player. Schroder has his bad moments where you’re wondering how someone can be such a bad decision maker, like late in the 4th quarter this game where he took two bad driving layups in back to back possessions in a close game. But then he does things that leaves you in awe like scoring that miraculous layup at the end. Overall, Schroder was great tonight, finishing with 25 points on 10-17 shooting. But man does he has some bad moments.

Steven Adams has looked a lot better these past couple weeks and he continued that trend tonight with a 22 point and 11 rebound double double, he even finished with four blocks. Games like tonight shows you the type of player Adams can be when given the opportunity throughout the entirety of games to score, not just in the 1st quarter. Adams best play was easily the Hail Mary pass at the end of regulation that sent this game to OT, that’ll be a career highlight for him for sure.

Danilo Gallinari had another typical game for his standards, scoring 21 points on 7-16 shooting. In the post-game interview, Adams brought up an interesting point on how Gallinari defended well in pick and roll situations this game by not letting the Wolves get the shots they were looking for. Some team is going to be very lucky to have Gallinari in the playoffs and I hope they’re prepared to give up a first round pick plus a young player.

Shout outs to Devon Hall and Lugentz Dort for stepping in and playing tonight, with the former only having 15 total pro minutes before tonight and the latte making their NBA debut. The Thunder had essentially no shooting guard depth tonight with Terrance Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo out with injuries and Deonte Burton suspended for conduct detrimental. Dort came up with a key steal on an inbound pass with 14.0 seconds left in the game where the Wolves had a 121-119 lead.

The Thunder scored 139 points despite only making five threes this game. How you might ask? They went 36-40 (90 FT%) from the free throw line and went 44-70 (62.8 FG%) on twos.