It took sixty-three minutes of intense basketball, but when the final horn buzzed the Thunder were ahead of the 76ers, 119-117.
Last night, it has been maybe the craziest game of this whole NBA season. The Thunder led throughout regulation until the 76ers tied the game with less than a minute left on the clock, 94-94. Philadelphia took its first lead in the first overtime and from there on it has been an exchange of leads and of waving hands.
Yes, waving hands. First Joel Embiid waived Steven Adams “goodbye” when he fouled out in the third overtime. Then, when the game ended, it was Russell Westbrook’s turn to wave at Embiid, suggesting him to “go home”.
The Thunder played a really good game of basketball until the 5.35 mark in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City took an eleven-point lead thanks to Felton’s layup. From there on the Thunder basically didn’t score anymore and the Sixers were able to close the gap and to bring the game to overtime.
All three overtimes have been a battle. Both teams didn’t want to give up. Everyone fought for the win, no matter the costs. Roberson was supposed to be on restriction minutes but he ended up playing 33 minutes and scored the final basket that gave Oklahoma City the final lead. On the other team, Embiid played 48 minutes and, considering that he was coming off a back injury, that’s also a lot.
Russell Westbrook played the most Russell Westbrook’ish game possible. He shot the ball very badly for the whole game but he was there to helped the team in all the other areas: rebounds, assists, defense. He came out clutch when the team needed him the most in overtime. He not only scored but he also trusted his teammates, especially Andre Roberson. He chose the correct plays down the final stretch and the Thunder won. This is his final stat line: 27 points, 18 rebounds, 15 assists, 2 steals, and 6 turnovers. Triple double, of course.
If we were checking only the box score we might think that Steven Adams didn’t play a very good game. He finished with 5 points (2-8 FG), 11 rebounds (7 on offense), 2 assists, and 1 steal. But everybody who watched the game knows how important Steven Adams has been for this team. He played an outstanding defensive game against Joel Embiid. Adams guarded him hard, he challenged Embiid on every possession, and the big Philadelphia’s center had to use every trick to score.
As it goes for Steven Adams it also goes for Andre Roberson. He wasn’t supposed to play this much but Donovan trusted him and relied on his outstanding defense. Roberson chased everyone who he was guarding on every corner of the court and at the end, he was rewarded with the last bucket which sealed the deal. He might not be an offensive threat but he is for sure a defensive wizard.
The Thunder’s bench played solid again. They outscored Philly’s bench 35-25. Not only the second unit had an efficient scoring night but also on the other end of the floor they didn’t give up anything. If they keep up this consistency, the Thunder will be in a good spot.
Oklahoma City is finally back to .500, 14 wins and 14 losses. It’s the first time they don’t have a negative record in a month. In fact, last time the Thunder had a .500 record was on November 15th. Tonight in New York will be a tough matchup but if Oklahoma City has a little bit of energy left after the marathon in Philly, they will find themselves on a winning record.
- FG% 41, 3P% 42, FT% 52, ASSISTS 28, REBOUNDS 60, STEALS 10, TURNOVERS 18
- FG% 44, 3P% 28, FT% 80, ASSISTS 35, REBOUNDS 50, STEALS 13, TURNOVERS 20
The Thunder will play tonight in New York against the New York Knicks, tip-off at 6.30 p.m. CT
Cover photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images