The Oklahoma City Thunder finally made its way back to .500 — it just took a little bit longer than expected to get there.
The Thunder beat the 76ers by a final score of 119-117 on Friday night in Philadelphia and needed seven quarters of basketball to do it. The triple-overtime thriller lasted a little more than three hours and featured nine combined players that logged more than 45 minutes of action. In the end, the Thunder came out on top.
Russell Westbrook notched his tenth triple-double of the season, contributing 27 points, 18 rebounds and 15 assists — but shot just 10/33 from the field. Carmelo Anthony and Paul George scored 24 points each and the Thunder tied a season-high for three-pointers made, hitting 15/35 (43%).
Oklahoma City moves to 14-14 on the season and will now turn around and play again on Saturday night in New York City. Let’s get into some notes.
The Wild Finish
The Thunder had the game well in hand in the fourth quarter but hit a typical dry spell that nearly cost the team the win. Philadelphia closed the fourth quarter on an 11-0 run — sending the contest into overtime tied at 94-94.
The first overtime saw the 76ers take a five-point lead with just 1:20 remaining, but a big three-pointer from Paul George and a timely bucket from Westbrook knotted it at 102-102. More free basketball was on the way.
The second overtime was a back-and-forth affair that found itself locked up at 111-111 with seconds remaining. Andre Roberson had a look near the basket that would have won the game, but his lay-in came up empty, sending the contest to a third and final frame.
And in the third overtime period, it was Russell Westbrook that sparked the Thunder attack. He scored six of the team’s eight points to close it — and found Roberson for the game-winning assist. Patrick Patterson blocked the 76ers’ final attempt and sealed it up for OKC.
Highlights from 2:30 remaining in the fourth quarter and on:
Westbrook. Russell Westbrook had another monster triple-double but shot just 10/33 in the process — going 2/5 from downtown and 5/12 from the free throw line. He made plays when they needed to be made and his 18 rebounds and 15 assists were huge. Still — those shots simply have to start falling.
PG & Melo. The other two members of the OK3 finished with 24 points each — Melo shooting 11/17 and George hitting 8/23. Melo was particularly impressive in the early going, scoring 16 of his points in the first half. He shot 4/7 in the second half and overtime, which is about as much as you can possibly ask of him.
Heavy Minutes. It was the first night of back-to-back and there may be little gas in the tank for Saturday’s tilt with the Knicks. Westbrook logged 52 minutes, Steven Adams played 51, Carmelo Anthony saw 47 and Paul George got 45. Andre Roberson — who made his first appearance after missing two games with an ankle sprain — played 34 minutes on a “minutes restriction.”
Ray Ray. The Thunder needed a super-sub and Raymond Felton was that man in Philly. He scored 14 points on 4/5 shooting from downtown and made a major impact.
- OKC won 73-62 on the boards. That will boost the per game average.
- Another poor night at the stripe. 10/19 (52.6%).
- OKC only turned the ball over 18 times — which is a lot, but not when you play seven quarters.
- The Thunder won 19-3 on the fast break.
- Embiid finished with 34 points on 11/20 shooting. Ben Simmons tallied 12 points, 11 assists and 9 rebounds but was hounded by Paul George and Andre Roberson for most of the evening.
Russ had seen about 48 minutes at this point — and then summoned strength from somewhere unholy to uncork this monster jam in the third overtime:
Joel Embiid waved goodbye to Steven Adams when Adams fouled out in the third overtime. When the game finally ended — Westbrook returned the favor.
Paul George on the win: