Thunder Journal: Crunch Time is a Flat Circle in Game 6 Win
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“Time is a flat circle.” Rust Cohle
“Crunch Time is a flat circle.” Russ, Chris
One of the all-time greatest Thunder playoff wins was heavily decided by last minute Chris Paul gaffes and Russell Westbrook heroics.
*Wayne’s World flashback motions and sound effects*
May 13, 2014. Thunder vs. Clippers. Game 5 in Oklahoma City. Second round series tied up 2-2. The home team is down 7 points with under a minute left and in danger of going back to Los Angeles down 3-2. A Western Conference Finals trip is on the line.
Chris Paul couldn’t have been any worse in the final moments and Russell Westbrook couldn’t have been any better.
49 seconds: CP3 makes a 17 foot jumper to take a 104-97 lead.
43 seconds: KD hits a 3-pointer off an assist from Russ. OKC down 104-100.
21 seconds: Russ rebounds a Jamal Crawford miss.
17 seconds: KD makes a layup off an assist from Russ. OKC down 104-102.
13 seconds: Russ steals the ball from Chris Paul.
6 seconds: CP3 fouls Russ on the elbow on a 3-point attempt.
6 seconds: Russ drills all three clutch free throws as the mentally tough KD turns around and sits on his buttcake at the other end of the court. OKC leads 105-104.
0 seconds: CP3 turns the ball over before a game winning shot can be attempted.
After the game, NBA media praised Russell Westbrook for his incredible will to win and his amazing play down the stretch. Meanwhile, Chris Paul was roasted for choking the game, and possibly the series, away for the Clippers.
“It’s me. Everything that happened at the end is on me,” a dejected Chris Paul said after the game.
“Faith,” Russ explained to reporters how the Thunder were able to mount a shocking comeback. “We just did a good job of staying together. We kept chipping away and playing together.”
That night, narratives and the pecking order of best point guards in the league shifted power from the high basketball IQ, traditional point guard Chris Paul to the explosive, chaotic, unpredictable score first point guard Russell Westbrook. All of a sudden, Russ was higher on the totem pole.
Some Thunder fans still felt affection for the point guard on the opposing team who began his career in and became a superstar in OKC, but the entire state had fallen head over heels with Russ and couldn’t have been happier that the better player was wearing a Thunder jersey.
*Wayne’s World returning from flashback motions and sound effects*
One of the all-time greatest Thunder playoff wins was heavily decided by last minute Russell Westbrook gaffes and Chris Paul heroics.
August 31, 2020. Thunder vs. Rockets. Game 6 in Orlando. First round series, OKC down 3-2. The “home” team is down 6 points with under four minutes left and in danger of going back home to Oklahoma City, LA, New Zealand, Italy, Germany or Canada. A date with LeBron and the Lakers is on the line.
Russell Westbrook couldn’t have been any worse in the final minutes and Chris Paul couldn’t have been any better.
4:19: Harden makes technical free throw. OKC down 98-92.
3:35: CP3 hits a 27 foot 3-pointer. OKC down 98-95.
3:18: Russ misses a layup.
2:57: CP3 hits a step back 3-pointer. 98-98.
2:33: Chris Paul steals pass from James Harden.
2:15: CP3 misses a layup.
1:23: CP3 steals the ball from Russ.
1:09: Russ makes a layup. OKC down 100-98.
1:00: Russ gets burned by Dennis Schroder for a layup. 100-100.
43 seconds: Russ airballs a midrange jumper.
13.1 seconds: CP3 gets fouled on drive by Robert Covington.
13.1 seconds: CP3 drills both clutch free throws. OKC leads 102-100.
7.6 seconds: Russ’s off target pass goes out of bounds and turns the ball over before a game winning or tying shot can be attempted.
3.8 seconds: Russ fouls Danilo Gallinari. Gallo hits both as CP3 stares a hole through James Harden’s soul. Memes are born. As is a Thunder legend. OKC wins 104-100.
After the game, NBA media praised Chris Paul for his incredible will to win and his amazing play down the stretch. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook was roasted for choking the game, and possibly the series, away for the Rockets.
“That’s my fault, honestly. That’s easy. Last game I had zero (turnovers) and tonight I had seven. Simple as that,” a dejected Russell Westbrook said after the game.
“This is who we are. We’re built for stuff like this,” CP3 explained to reporters how the Thunder were able to mount a shocking comeback. “We stick together and we keep fighting.”
Monday night, narratives of the pecking order of best point guards in the league shifted power from the explosive, chaotic, unpredictable score first point guard Russell Westbrook to the high basketball IQ, traditional point guard Chris Paul. All of a sudden, CP3 was higher on the totem pole.
Every Thunder fan still felt affection for the point guard on the opposing team who began his career in and became a superstar in OKC, but the entire state had fallen head over heels with CP3 and couldn’t have been happier that the better player was wearing a Thunder jersey.
- The total scores for both teams in this series: Houston 669, OKC 626.
- The Rockets are outscoring the Thunder by an average of 7.17 points per game. And yet, the series is tied.
- These games are all either blow outs by the Rockets or close clutch time wins by the Thunder.
- OKC won this, Russ didn’t lose it. Don’t get it twisted.
- The Houston Rockets fall to the ground more than objects in a Lonely Island video.
- Danilo Gallinari has been one of the best shooters and scorers in the NBA the last two years. He’s a combined 0-9 from the field and 0-6 from 3 the last two games combined. If you’re a believer in progression to the mean (I am), he’s due to start hitting a lot of these looks.
- I tweeted the above after Gallo missed his first four shots, including three 3s, of the game. He went 5-5 after I sent it. Danilo finished 9-13 and 4-9 from 3 for 25 points. Yes, this is two whole notes just to pat myself on the back.
- I want the Thunder, the NBA and the FBI to launch a full investigation into that James Harden elbow into Steven Adams’ tummy.
- Darius Bazley has quietly been very consistent on both sides of the court in his first playoff series. He is the youngest player getting minutes in the NBA Playoffs.
- Lu Dort was maybe the biggest reason why the Thunder got down so big in the third quarter in Game 5. Dort was definitely the biggest reason why the Thunder took the lead in the third quarter in Game 6. Dort scored 8 straight points to close the third quarter.
- Bazley scored 8 points… on 2 shots.
- Shai didn’t have a great offensive game with 10 points on 4-11 shooting. But he did have 6 assists, and more importantly, played his best defense of the series. While SGA’s scoring has been solid in the playoffs, the big knock had been his passive performance on D. His effort on the other end was much better in Game 6.
- CP3 was a ridiculous +20 in his 40 minutes, which is great.
- OKC was a ridiculous -16 in CP3’s 8 bench minutes, which is gross.
- The refs called a tech on Chris Paul for doing what the Rockets do after every offensive and defensive possession.
- The Thunder have now officially been more successful than any OKC team since the 2016 WCF squad.
- Up next: Game 7 on tonight at 8pm. Get your popcorn ready. And a clean pair of shorts.