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When Danilo Gallinari dunked and converted the and 1 with 2:39 left in the game to shave a 30 point deficit to 3 points, you thought the Thunder were going to pull off the mother comeback of all comebacks.
I know I did. And I know 18,000 or so of my best friends inside The Peake thought so because they were losing their Thunder-loving minds.
The Thunder faithful have been spoiled this season by a team that has an affinity for digging themselves a huge double digit, many times over 20 points, hole and fighting back valiantly to escape with a dramatic, narrow win led by Chris Clutch Crunchtime Comeback Paul.
The Thunder have been the Vincent van Gogh of comeback wins this season, and tonight they almost painted their masterpiece. But alas, the Raptors cut their ears off just short of pulling off the unthinkable double comeback.
A 30 point Toronto lead at the end of the second quarter was dwindled down to just 8 points at the end of the third quarter. Then a 21 point deficit halfway through the fourth quarter was cut to just 3 on Gallo’s dunk.
A finally healthy Pascal Siakam finger rolled a layup home on the other end, just to be matched by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s two free throw makes right after to keep OKC within one possession with only 2:09 left in the game.
This game was the halfway point in the 2019-20 season for the Thunder, and the OKC fans in attendance have been conditioned by the previous 40 games to believe a 3 point affair following a monster comeback meant that Paul and Co were going to get stops and hit shots in the final two minutes.
Kyle Lowry had other plans and crashed the premature Paul party. Kyle played the part of Chris tonight, scoring on back to back possessions in the last two minutes to stretch a 3 point lead to 7 and just out of reach for any last minute home team heroics.
But be honest.
Even watching this Thunder team lose really is a lot of fun.
- The Thunder are officially on pace for a 46-36 season, which would be an unbelievable accomplishment after trading away Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Jerami Grant.
- Thunder records the past two seasons with the aforementioned superstars: 49-33 and 48-34.
- OKC has the 20th toughest schedule remaining, so if the team remains intact, it’s possible the second half of the season is actually more successful than the first 41.
- The three teams directly behind OKC in the standings and their remaining schedule strength: Memphis 9th, Portland 11th, San Antonio 18th.
- The Rockets are now only 1/2 game ahead of the Mavs. We’re getting very close to a world where the Rockets are the 6 seed and the Thunder are the 7 seed.
- Oh, and Houston has the 8th toughest schedule remaining.
- Steven Adams left the game early after old friend Serge stepped on the back on his leg. The Thunder are calling the injury a calf contusion and there is no timetable to return.
- No Adams and no Nerlens Noel meant Mike Muscala and Justin Patton played heavy minutes against the Raptors’ bag of bigs. Muscala played well offensively, scoring 17 points on 11 shots. Patton fell just 41 points short of his massive 45 point performance last night in the G League.
- Adams and Noel’s absence was most noticeable defensively in the paint, where the Raptors scored a whopping 62 points without the Thunder’s two rim protectors.
- Shai’s pregame intro applause in his first game after 20-20-10 was noticeably louder than it was back in the old days when he was just a guy with no triple doubles.
- SGA didn’t repeat his epic performance, but he still looked the part of budding star with 21 points on 10 shots, a perfect 2-2 from 3, a perfect 7-7 from the line, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 1 block.
- CP3 double doubled with 16 points, 11 assists and 4 steals.
- Gallo is so good. Can’t imagine how many calls Presti is getting on him. If a contender ends up trading for the all-world scorer, OKC is gonna get such a nice return.
- Serge Ibaka scored 4 fewer points in the 1st quarter of his OKC return tonight than James Harden had all game last week at The Peake.
- Deonte Burton fouls a 3 point shooter right in front of Serge Ibaka on the Toronto bench. Nice little homage to the master of the art.
- The Thunder rained down 4 straight 3’s to go on a 12-0 run to end the half and get the crowd HYPED… to cut the deficit to 18.
- Okay, I know calling the opposing team lucky in game recaps comes off as incredibly homerish and lame, but I gotta do it. In a three minute stretch, while the Thunder were in the midst of their first comeback, Norman Powell hit a double clutch falling down fade-away at the buzzer, Marc Gasol banked a 3 point shot off the glass, and OG Anunoby had a buzzer beater double covered 3 point prayer from 27 feet answered. There were other absurd Toronto shots tonight, but that specific span of shots was particularly ridiculous.
- Chris Paul was a +17 and Gallo was a +8 in a 9 point loss.
- Up next: the red hot Heat and the Melo Blazers in OKC for a rare home back to back.