Russell Westbrook’s shot, and the huge cluster of bodies scrambling before it went up, ended up being so big, NBA.com had no choice but to name it their play of the day.
Here’s a view of NBA.com’s Play of the Day from a courtside perspective:
I think all of the hoopla at the end of that video perfectly captured the atmosphere in Chesapeake Energy Arena following that beautiful 3-ball. Although Thabo Sefolosha deserves some credit himself for making a beautiful recovery that made Westbrook’s shot possible in the first place.
Last night marked the second meeting of the season between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors, and this meeting was just as dramatic and “edge-of-your-seat” as their first encounter.
The Thunder opened the game with a 6-0 run, but a lot of back-and-forth saw the Thunder’s lead extend to a max of 7 (30-23) with an even 1:00 on the clock. The Warriors, however, managed to cut the lead to 4 (32-28) to end the 1st quarter.
In the 2nd quarter, the Thunder set the cruise control. I understand that it’s impossible to go all-out every second of the game, but the Thunder may have had cruise control set for too long in the 2nd. Because even though the Thunder had reclaimed their 7-point lead (52-45) with 1:16 to go in the first half, the Warriors actually outscored the Thunder by 1 to end the 2nd period. This allowed the Warriors to rest on a mere 3-point deficit (54-51) heading into halftime.
Unlike the Spurs game back on Wednesday night, the Thunder came out of halftime looking flat. The Warriors even started a 25-14 run at the 9:07 mark of the 3rd quarter that extended their lead to 9 (80-71) with 1:39 to go in the period. The Warriors had even outscored the Thunder by 9 in the 3rd to take a 6-point lead (82-76) going into the 4th quarter.
Of course, anyone who watches Thunder games on a regular basis knows just how hard it is to get the Thunder to lie down and accept defeat. The 6-point lead that the Warrior’s took into the 4th would not be built upon at all. Not only that, but the Thunder opened the 4th on a 7-0 run that had stolen the lead back from the Warriors (83-82). The 4th quarter was a back-and-forth struggle that saw 6 lead changes and 7 ties. However, things were not lookng good at the 3:45 mark, when an 11-6 run by the Warriors had extended their lead to 5 (99-94). The Thunder managed to hang tough, however. A 6-1 run of their own tied the game at 100 with 2:19 to play. The last 2:19 was evenly contested, and the score was knotted up at 104 apiece when the clock expired at the end of regulation. With OT on the horizon, fans at “The ‘Peake” had realized the the second chapter of the Thunder-Warriors saga would be every bit as enthralling as the first.
And not to disappoint, OT turned out to have every bit of that nail-biting suspense I was expecting.
The back and forth that began OT was slightly disrupted when the Thunder went on a 4-0 run to claim a 110-106 lead halfway through the OT period. Much like the Thunder, however, the Warriors had no plans of rolling over and playing dead. They responded with a 6-0 run of their own to claim a 2-point advantage with a mere 45.1 seconds remaining. After some slight back-and-forth defense, NBA.com’s Play of the Day was set in motion.
Kevin Durant’s floating jump shot missed with 11.9 left on the clock, but the Thunder responded with a team rebound. A subsequent jump shot by Serge Ibaka bricked as well, and the ball was headed out of bounds when Sefolosha made the biggest save of the game. His rebound and dish to Westbrook resulted in the 3-point dagger with one-tenth of a second remaining.
This time, Westbrook didn’t leave the Warriors enough time to steal the win back, as it usually requires a bare minimum of three-tenths of a second to catch and shoot. All the Warriors could try was a last-second tip-in, which didn’t even come close. In the end, Westbrook’s 3-pointer was the Thunder’s dish of revenge, served to the Warriors ice-cold.
Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka once again put up some impressive double-doubles. (Durant: 25 points, 13 rebounds. Ibaka: 18 points, 13 rebounds.) And although Westbrook failed to post a double-double, his 34 points led all scorers on the floor for both sides.
Leave it to Stephen Curry to post insane numbers for the Warriors. His double-double (32 points, 11 rebounds) helped keep the game close. David Lee managed to respond with a double-double of his own (10 points, 12 rebounds), and the rest of the starting lineup for the Warriors managed double-digit points as well (Harrison Barnes dropped 26, Klay Thompson drained 16, and Andrew Bogut posted 14.).
The Thunder move to 11-3 on the year with last night’s victory, as the Warriors fell to 9-8. The Thunder get to rest today before hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves, who currently sit at 8-9, tomorrow night. Revenge is once again on the agenda, as the last meeting in Minneapolis resulted in a 100-81 loss that still stands as the worst one the Thunder have been forced to stomach all year. Although, to be fair, this was the last game Westbrook had to miss because of his knee. I’m sure the Timberwolves realize they’re not going to have near as easy a go of it this time around. The game will emanate from Chesapeake Energy Arena at 6pm CST, and will be brought to you via Fox Sports Oklahoma, WWLS The Sports Animal, and NBA League Pass.