Game 51 Recap: Thunder (31-20) def. Cavs (13-39) 109-103
Official Box Score link
Fine, I suppose I’ll stop refreshing Twitter in hopes of seeing Woj bombs for a whole hour and write this game recap.
As I start writing this, Danilo Gallinari is still a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Let’s see what happens when I pick up my phone in 60 minutes.
Despite the snowy weather, a four day layoff, an underwhelming opponent, and the distraction of trade deadline rumors buzzing through The Peake, the Thunder still managed to muster up the late game focus and energy to pull off some patented fourth quarter magic against the scrappy Cleveland Cavaliers tonight. Per the usual, it was a close affair that came down to crunch time. Also per the usual, OKC’s veteran experience and clutch ability led them to make the plays needed to pull out a nail-biting win.
Sorry, I can’t do it. I have to check my phone. Be right back.
Okay, whew, Gallo is still a Thunder player.
As I was saying…
Chris Paul is #1 in the league in clutch time scoring this season. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is #8. But it was NBA’s #23 ranked clutch scorer, Dennis Schroder, who was Oklahoma City’s crunch time maestro against the Cavs.
The league’s leading 6th Man of the Year scored a game high 30 points tonight, including 10 in the 4th quarter and 6 in the final 1:03. The biggest bucket of the night also came courtesy of Schroder, a corner 3 point dagger that gave OKC a 106-100 lead with 28 seconds left in the game. Ballspiel.
Sure, a home game against the lowly Cavs shouldn’t come down to the final minutes of the game. But if we’re being honest, I’m probably not putting my full effort into writing this Thunder vs Cavs recap, and you probably aren’t putting your full effort into reading this Thunder vs Cavs recap, so can we really blame OKC for not putting their full effort into playing this Thunder vs Cavs game? They still escaped with a win, and did so with a small bit of rust and a big bit of distraction.
Now that this game is in the books, Thunder fans can devote their full attention to a battle much more epic than OKC vs. Cleveland.
Woj vs. Shams.
- The Thunder have won 3 straight games and are once again tied with the Dallas Mavericks for the 6 seed.
- Seriously, though, it was tough for any media member to focus on the game tonight with all the Gallo to Heat trade speculation swirling through the air. I saw more eyes on computer screens and phones than on the court tonight.
- Terrance Ferguson was back tonight but Lu Dort was still in the starting lineup. That’s it. Give Billy Donovan Coach of the Year.
- Why did Billy start Dort over Ferguson tonight? “I just thought it was the best thing for our team.” Says he spoke to Terrance about it before the game.
- Very happy for Ferguson that it seems that his personal reasons for being away from basketball are taken care of, at least for the time being. He seemed cheerful to be back with his teammates.
- A bit surprised to see Hamidou Diallo cut out of the rotation with Ferguson back. Meanwhile, Abdel Nader ended up with 13 minutes.
- The refs called one of the worst offensive foul calls I’ve ever seen on Dennis Schroder. Then he just ran the foul off because it was so bad, without saying a word or complaining… and he got a technical foul for it. The play was reviewed, the call was overturned, and yet the tech still stood. If the Thunder had lost by 1 point, OKC fans would’ve rioted.
- Dennis Schroder is going to win 6th Man of the Year. Screenshot this recap.
- Shai was great offensively tonight, scoring 23 points on 9 of 17 shooting. He grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out 3 assists and filled out his line with 2 blocks and 2 steals.
- If tonight was Gallo’s last night in a Thunder uniform, it was a solid but rather pedestrian showing by his standards. He scored 15 points on 5 of 11 shooting, including 2 of 5 from 3 point range. But he scored 8 points in the first 8 minutes to keep the Thunder afloat.
- The rumored return for Gallo at the time of this recap: Jae Crowder + Solomon Hill + Miami’s 2025 1st rounder + protections taken off the Miami 2023 1st rounder. It’s a solid package for an expiring contract, regardless of Gallinari’s greatness. That said, I’m hoping Presti squeezes one of the Heat’s promising young players out of Pat Riley. Tyler Herro isn’t realistic, but one of Kendrick Nunn or Duncan Robinson would be a really nice cherry on top.
- Up next: stressing out as we count down the moments to the 2pm trade deadline.