The Oklahoma City Thunder (42-30) lost their fourth straight game on Wednesday night in Oklahoma City, falling to the Toronto Raptors (51-21) by a final score of 123-114. The Thunder were trailing by double-digits for most of the second half, but somehow managed to force overtime after a flurry of desperation threes by Paul George in the final minutes. Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 42 points, while Pascal Siakam was the high-man for the Raptors with 33 points.
Westbrook certainly looked the part of a guy who had a few days to rest, having missed Monday’s loss to the Miami Heat while serving his one-game suspension for accumulating 16 technicals. Westbrook scored nine points (4/6 FG, 1/1 3P) in the opening frame with an extra pep in his step. The Raptors found a hole in the Thunder’s defensive armor by going 5-of-8 from beyond the arc, highlighted by Danny Green’s perfect 3-of-3 from deep. Toronto scored at will, going 71.4 percent from the field and led 39-31 after one.
OKC showed some semblance of defensive capabilities in the second, but the offense couldn’t close the gap on the Raptors. Far too many Thunder possessions consisted of stagnation, but a nice sequence of ball movement from Westbrook and Dennis Schroder found Terrance Ferguson in the corner for an open three with 1:22 on the clock. Pascal Siakam dominated his three dimensional Spiderman Meme matchup over Jerami Grant in the first half, scoring 17 points on 8/12 shooting. The Raptors took a 63-55 advantage with them into the locker room.
Toronto used a pair of careless Thunder turnovers to catapult a 15-3 run to start the third quarter. The Raptors scored six points off those turnovers with the Thunder’s nonchalant effort getting back in transition. To make matters worse, Westbrook airballed a point-blank baseline finger-roll that resulted in yet another three by Danny Green. In the blink of an eye, the Thunder trailed by 18 points with just over two minutes passed in the third quarter. The Raptors led 92-78 after three.
The Thunder were down and out, trailing by double-digits for most of the fourth before finding themselves trailing by just eight with two minutes to go. A George three cut the Thunder’s deficit to five with a minute left, and Fred VanVleet’s miss gave the Thunder yet another chance. PG hit another hail-mary three over Kawhi Leonard, bringing the Thunder to within two with 40 seconds remaining. VanVleet missed another three on Toronto’s next trip down, but George picked up his sixth and final foul on a looseball call on Siakam with 19.9 on the clock.
Trailing by two, the Thunder needed yet another stop — VanVleet’s missed layup gave Westbrook a running start with the clock in single-digits. Westbrook drove left over Green and finished the layup, tying the game at 110 with 4.8 seconds left. Siakam was then called for an offensive foul with 1.1 seconds remaining, but Westbrook missed a difficult turnaround three at the end of regulation. Somehow, someway the Thunder had forced overtime.
On the eve of March Madness, the clock struck midnight (almost literally) on Oklahoma City’s Cinderella comeback. With George watching from the sidelines, Leonard matched up on Westbrook and the Raptors forced someone/anyone else to beat them. The Thunder started 0-of-7 from the field in overtime before Westbrook’s dunk with 31.5 seconds left and the Thunder trailing by nine. A valiant effort late, just not enough to steal it.
Free Throw Shooting: This team’s Achilles heel: The Thunder shot an embarrassing 15-of-29 from the line tonight, those freebies always find a way of adding up in a game like this. Can’t expect to win many close ones with this sort of output from the charity stripe.
Avert Your Eyes: Don’t look now, but the Thunder are tied for eighth in the Western Conference. Not what this team had in mind after ripping off 11 wins out of 13 games right before the All-Star break.
Brodie: Westbrook bounced back in a big way after his Saturday night shortcomings against Golden State. On a night where basically nothing was right offensively for the Thunder, the Brodie carried the load by scoring 42 points on an efficient 16-of-29 from the field, including 5-of-10 from deep. It’s unfortunate the Thunder have had very few moments of both PG and Russ playing at such high levels simultaneously in their two-year stint together. It always feels like whenever one is really in a groove, the other finds himself in a slump. Hopefully, both of the Thunder All-Stars can turn it on for the postseason. Ten regular season games to go.
Mr. Thunder: Regardless of what happened in the game, Thunder fans will always have Nick Collison. Here’s his entire jersey retirement ceremony — including a great tribute video and Nick addressing Chesapeake Energy for roughly 10 minutes. All the feels.