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Third time’s the shairm.
The Thunder have progressively gotten better every game this series. Game 1, the Rockets rocked the Thunder like Russ rocks a baby. Game 2, the Thunder threw away a halftime Lu led lead via a 17-0 Rockets run. Game 3, all the stars aligned for a classic clutch Thunder win. And by stars, I mean Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schroder and Luguentz Dort.
For Thunder fans, this game had a bit of everything that has made OKC so exciting and fun this season.
CP3 silenced his critics who said he was washed because of one ho-hum Game 1 and a pretty pew Game 2. The future All NBA selection was back to his Clutch Paul self by scoring 26 points, drawing a triple team and kicking out for the go ahead shot in regulation and then completely dominating overtime.
Schroder showed he’s still the Sixth Man of the Year despite Dennis’s daddy duties knocking up his Bubble rhythm. Much maligned for his Game 2 turnovers, Schroder led the Thunder with 29 points, including a crucial 3 late in the game.
I could write an entire Thunder homer filled Homer epic poem about the Lu Dort, Defender and Daddy of House Harden. It’s a testament to how amazing Lu’s defense was on Harden that a player who went 0-6 from 3 was being championed by ESPN, trending on Twitter, and called the game’s MVP. Against Dort, Harden has hit only 4 of 19 shots (21%). Against every other Thunder player, Harden is 24 of 52 (57%). It’s easy to forgive 6 missed 3’s when a guy with Dort’s peanuts of a salary is able to afford rent inside of Harden’s head.
All SGA did was hit the biggest shot of his young career, a go ahead 3 pointer all alone in the corner with 13 seconds left on the clock. He’s been pegged a future All Star by most every NBA analyst, but kneejerk reactions to a rough Game 1 had some fans filled with doubt. Shai responded by scoring 31 points on 17 shots and outplaying everyone on the court, including James Harden, in Game 2 and then by scoring 23 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals and one gargantuan go ahead 3 in Game 3.
Regardless of what happens the rest of this series, Shai stepping up in showtime may be the most meaningful moment of the Thunder postseason. That’s the kind of clutch shot that gives budding stars confidence because it’s the kind of shot that superstars make.
A comeback win. A clutch shot. The three headed point guard monster. Dort D. Even a little overtime small ball. This was everything Thunder fans have been hoping to see, and OKC avoids the sweep and is all of a sudden in a competitive 2-1 series.
So while Playoff P continues to regret his self-anointed nickname, thankful Thunder fans breathe a bit easier due to Showtime Shai.
Much to Clippers fans’ shaigrin.
- So much happened in this game that I didn’t have space to cover the James Harden/Chris Paul should’ve been double foul double flop or the PJ Tucker inbounds to a grounded Gordon that Rockets fans swear Steven Adams touched (he didn’t).
- Lu Dort as an undrafted rookie is just completely unfazed by the big stage of the playoffs.
- We’re all Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel fans, but I still think the best way for the Thunder to score on this Houston D is by playing Gallinari, Muscala or Bazley at the 5.
- Two biggest differences in this game compared to the first two: OKC outscored Houston with Harden on the bench and Chris Paul was Chris Paul.
- Jeff Green being the best former Thunder player in this series is classic 2020.
- Dort goes to the bench… …Harden goes off. Lu needs to play every single minute that Harden plays.
- The Thunder led by 6 at halftime in Game 2 but it felt like it should’ve been more and the Rockets took advantage. The Rockets lead by 6 at halftime today but it felt like it should be more… and the Thunder took advantage.
- My favorite thing about this series is James Harden trying so hard to use his series of moves to get by Lu Dort for 15 seconds and then just giving up and passing the ball away.
- Remember when this season was supposed to be stress free and making the playoffs was a success anything else was just gravy?
- Lu Dort fouled out James Harden within the first minute of OT. Dort’s jersey going up in the virtual rafters.
- Name a better contract in the NBA than Lu Dort.
- 29 NBA GMs really looked at Lu Dort and said “nah, we’re good.”
- Billy Donovan in his post game: “Steven was available to come back in.” Donovan decided to play small in overtime even with Adams available. Interesting note going into Game 4.
- Up next: Game 4 on Monday at 3pm.