After an incredible comeback against the Orlando Magic, the Oklahoma City Thunder went a season-high 12 games over .500. The Thunder were well on their way to making it 13, building a 21-point lead against the San Antonio Spurs with less than 6 minutes to go in the third quarter. But the Thunder suffered a blow out of sorts, as the Spurs stole a victory, followed by Charlotte Hornets pummeling the Thunder on Sunday.
SIX THINGS FROM THE WEEK
Comeback. Riding high from stunning rally from 13 down with less than 3 minutes to go against the Dallas Mavericks last Monday, the Thunder set the stage for a massive letdown as the Magic built a 21-point lead with just over 5 minutes to go in the third quarter. Oklahoma City scratched and clawed its way to within 8 with 8:19 left in the fourth, but let the lead ballooned back to 14. Although as the Mavs game demonstrated, you can never count out a Westbrook-led team, and, wouldn’t you know, Westbrook rallied the Thunder to within 3, before hitting a dramatic 3-pointer with 7.1 seconds left to send the game to overtime. Westbrook would go on to score 57 (and nab a triple double), and the Thunder would go on to win in overtime.
And back to earth. Just as the basketball gods giveth, they taketh away. From the opening tip against the Spurs, the Thunder looked the part of a juggernaut, using their length and athleticism to frustrate the Spurs, just as they did last season in the playoffs. Two Steven Adams free throws with 5:56 remaining the third gave the Thunder a… wait for it… 21-point lead. Less than 18 minutes later, the Thunder were on the losing end of yet another astonishing rally. Per my best guess and assumption, the Thunder were the first team to mount 21-point third quarter comeback and follow it up by blowing a 21-point third quarter lead.
Then, on Sunday afternoon against the Hornets, the Thunder apparently wanted to make an even more shocking comeback, purposefully letting the Hornets build a 21-point lead (this time in the fourth quarter). And, after a Westbrook three, the Thunder had rallied to within 8 with 2:30 left on the clock. However, despite the storybook setup of the third-straight game involving a 21-point lead, the Hornets closed the book on the Thunder, going on to win 113-101.
A microcosm. If I may, let me wax poetically about the last three games. To me, the last three are a microcosm of the Thunder’s season. Fleeting moments of excellence to make you believe in the best, followed by depths so great, you wonder how the team isn’t lottery bound. This is a team that was a blown 21-point lead away from taking 2 from the San Antonio Spurs. This is also a team that got run out of its own arena by a team that may actually be lottery bound (the Hornets). The magnificent moments are fueled by MVP performances by Westbrook, and the pitfalls, almost ironically, are caused by Westbrook having to shoulder too great a load. With the playoffs just around the corner, it’s virtually certain that Westbrook will put together a few more virtuoso performances with the season on the line, but he’s going to need a little help if the Thunder want to advance beyond the first round.
Poster Block. When a player “posterizes” another, it’s typically on the heels of a monster dunk. So, I guess what Jerami Grant did to Miles Plumlee was a bit of a reverse poster.
Well this is embarrassing.
Fact of the week. Here’s a fun fact: with 24 turnovers against the Hornets, the Thunder became the 17th team to commit 24 or more turnovers in a game this season. Teams are 2-15 when committing 24 turnovers, which makes me think it’s probably a bad thing. In the Thunder’s 9-year existence, the team has had 9 games with 24+ turnover, recording just 3 wins against 6 losses. So yeah, it’s probably a bad thing.
AND ONE MORE MAKES SEVEN
Forty. Just one more triple double to tie Oscar Roberson’s record of 41 in a single season. Unbelievable.