Official Box Score link
Team A: Rebuilding squad that lost two Top 12 superstars, playing the second night of a back to back without their starting center, who happens to be one of their top four players.
Team B: Reigning MVP headlining a team featuring a fellow All Star, claimed the #1 seed last year and has championship aspirations once again.
This should have been an absolute drubbing, right?
Nah, this year’s Thunder squad is having none of that.
A playoff atmosphere broke out in early November when MVP Giannis Asdfjkl;unmpo and his loaded Bucks took on Mike Muscala and his replenishing Thunder.
The Thunder led for the majority of the game, but a miserable third quarter allowed the Bucks to seize the lead . And just when it looked like Milwaukee was running away with the game in the closing minutes, OKC pulled some classic Thunder magic out of their Love’s patches and rallied for a tie with less than 30 seconds left in the game.
When Danilo Gallinari hit a scrambled, fade away 3 pointer to even the score, The Peake roared like the good old days of 2018. The team was jubilant, the crowd was electric, and one certain member of the media lost his charade of professionalism for a moment, threw his hands in the air and yelped. (You can find this amateur hour’s name at the top of this article.)
Sure, the game was lost on the next possession when Brook Lopez hit a 3 despite some fine OKC defense. And despite the fact that Lopez clearly traveled on the play.
But that furious Thunder comeback in the last minute and the roof coming off The Peake when Gallo nailed that shot was a good reminder of how much this fanbase still loves their basketball team. Small market, rebuilding team, lost the state’s all-time favorite athlete, losing record, second home game in as many nights… but OKC was still there cheering on their beloved Thunder and all their new faces and names.
The box score says the Thunder lost, and teams always say they don’t believe in moral victories. But I was there in the arena and felt the connection of this fanbase with this endearing, overachieving team.
Sure felt like a win to me.
- This was about as perfect of a Thunder game as you could hope for this season. A wire to wire entertaining and competitive game in which OKC shot lights out, the young guys played well, the vets increased their trade value, and the Thunder ultimately come up just short and remain in the mix for a top lottery draft pick.
- Hamidou Diallo would lead the league in steals and dunks if he played starter’s minutes.
- Jesse Eisenberg was shown on the Thunder jumbotron to a mild, lukewarm applause. Which is out of character for the OKC crowd, as they normally go nuts for visiting celebrities. I don’t know if fans didn’t recognize him, or if they only associate him with Mark Zuckerberg and Lex Luthor. In which case, it’s hard to cheer for those two villains.
- After masquerading as Mr. Hyde over the first eight games of the season, we have finally seen Muscala’s Dr. Jekyll come out the past two games.
- Not sure how this is possible, but in a 2 point game that was close throughout, every single Thunder player was a negative in the +/- column except Dennis Schroder. It gets crazier. Schroder was a +18. Someone please explain that math to me.
- Back to Diallo. How did the Thunder lose Russell Westbrook and still have the best dunker in the NBA?
- I used to love KD’s rip move. Then I ended up hating KD’s rip move. I used to hate CP3’s rip move. Now I’ve ended up loving CP3’s rip move.
- Great to see SGA bounce back from his worst game of the season yesterday to have another star quality performance tonight. 22 points, 4 made 3’s, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals. Sophomores don’t usually win Most Improved Player, but Shai is making a case too strong to deny.
- It’s common knowledge that CP3, Gallo, Schroder and possibly Adams are all on the trade block, but the extended time that Nerlens Noel is playing has proven what Thunder fans have known for a year now: he’s a starting quality center. He has looked fantastic this season, and he’s on a minimum contract. Noel and Schroder have definitively increased their trade value over the past 10 games.
- OKC has played a murderous schedule thus far and been in every game to the end. And they’ve beaten all the bad teams besides the Wizards, something they’ve struggled with in the past. This is a fun squad.
- The Thunder fall to 4-6 on the season, but good news OKC fans: they play the Warriors again in 15 days.