Thunder Journal: Thunder’s Three Guards Greater Than Rockets Three Balls in 117-114 Game 4 Win.
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When we will all stop doubting this Thunder team?
When Russell Westbrook and Playoff P were traded away for Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and a dozen 8th graders, 99.8% of us doubted this team would make the playoffs.
We doubted Chris Paul would be happy in Oklahoma City and would try to board the first covered wagon out of Bricktown.
When this team found itself in double digit or even 20 plus point deficits throughout the season, we doubted they could come back.
At the trade deadline, we doubted Sam Presti would even keep this team together.
When this team got down 19-7 to the Rockets with 3 minutes left in the 1st quarter of Game 3, we doubted this team would come back to win.
When this team got down 15 to the Rockets after an 8 for 8 3 point barrage in Game 4, we doubted this team would come back to win.
When the Rockets got up to a 2-0 lead, we doubted the Thunder could avoid the sweep.
Crunching the numbers, looks like we went a collective 0-7. Ya know, a typical James Harden quarter if he’s being defended by Lu Dort.
The official state meal of Oklahoma is fried okra, cornbread, barbecue pork, squash, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken fried steak, pecan pie, and black-eyed peas.
Randomness of those food selections and the fact that Steven Adams is the only Oklahoma resident who can actually eat all of that in one setting aside, this Thunder team should move to change the official state meal to crow.
At halftime of Game 4, the Thunder and Rockets were all tied up at 60-60. Coming out of the break, Houston hoisted and hit a hand of a crazy eight 3 pointers. And with that kind of deadeye Aames, we all thought surely eight is enough. The Rockets held an 88-73 lead with just under 6 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. All the doubting Thunder Thomas’s, Dick Van Patten’s and Harry’s hurried to a quick math solution: OKC -15 = Houston 3-1.
Enter the NBA’s most dominant three man lineup since the pre-KD Warriors. The Thunder closed the quarter on a 19-5 run, and Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder scored or assisted every single point save for a Nerlens Noel free throw.
After a 31 foot Dennis Schroder bomb to beat the buzzer, OKC walked into the 4th quarter like a Vince McMahon meme.
The final period was a back and forth seesaw that saw me saw my nails down to a nub. But while the Rockets continued to shoot 3’s like they were worried about breaking the Pop-A-Shot high score at Dave and Buster’s, the Thunder played calm, smart basketball down the stretch.
The Rockets took a 108-107 lead with 1:41 left in the game. CP3 hit a patented midrange jumper, a Dort induced gassed Harden missed a floater and gifted Gallinari a Gordon intended pass, the 6th Man of the Year danced to the rim for the biggest layup of his career, and Clutch Paul hit two free throws.
Eighteen seconds later, CP3 was speaking on social injustice to the TNT crew.
With Russell Westbrook out of this series, the Rockets have the best individual weapon in this series in James Harden. But the Thunder have the best collective weapon in Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder. And that 3 to 1 advantage kept the Rockets from taking a 3 to 1 advantage.
The Thunder can take the series lead on Wednesday night.
If insanity truly is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then anyone who doubts this Thunder team can win Game 5 may just be certifiable.
- Russell Westbrook is listed as OUT for Game 5. Of course as we saw with Lu Dort in Game 2, that could change on game day.
- The Thunder finally had a fast start in this series, opening up an 11-3 lead in the first minute and a half.
- After going 0-6 from 3 in Game 3, Dort went 3-9 in Game 4. If he keeps missing 6 3’s but adding 3 more 3’s each game, Dort will go 6-12 in Game 5.
- Uncle Jeff opened up the game with 2 straight 3’s, which meant he was a ridiculous 12-23 for the series. He had either gone from a 33% career 3 point shooter to Steph Curry, or he was due to cool off. He missed his next 4 3’s.
- Dennis Schroder wasn’t the 6th Man last night. He was just The Man.
- Draymond Green tweeted “Darius Bazley is going to be nice!” during the game and Thunder fans got a case of PTSKD.
- But seriously, I hope someone took Bazley’s phone away from him immediately following this game.
- Bold move by Donovan going with Ferguson to close the half. Dort was in foul trouble but the Thunder needed some D. Kudos to both Billy and TFerg. OKC was a +4 in those 3 minutes.
- The Rockets have never committed a single foul. The Rockets are fouled on every possession. Source: the Rockets.
- Just like Game 3 overtime, Donovan played small ball down the stretch. And once again, it paid off. This team is incredible in crunch time.
- The Thunder have now guaranteed at least a 6 game series and officially had a more successful season than last year with Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Jerami Grant.
- Russ chirped with Adams and Schroder, and it didn’t bother me at all. Steven and Dennis don’t have Spalding (or Wilson) written across their foreheads, so they’re not his friends during his game. We loved that about Russ when he was in OKC. I’m sure after this series, they’ll all still be mates.
- Up next: Game 5 on Wednesday at 5:30pm.