Oklahoma City earned another tough win on the road tonight in Orlando. The Thunder came back from 21 points, which is the largest comeback in franchise history. This game didn’t have a lot of buzz around it from national media, other than the never ending story about the incredible season from Russell Westbrook. In a game that didn’t have much hype, or entertainment for most of the game, it certainly turned out to be an all-time classic.
The Thunder got off to an amazing start against the Magic due to the explosiveness of Russell Westbrook and the shooting of Victor Oladipo. Only a couple minutes in, Oklahoma City led 10-2. The lead quickly dwindled after a timeout from Orlando that led to some adjustments for them. The Magic actually took a one point lead during the middle of the quarter, but the Thunder ended up on top at the end. In what was a low scoring quarter, the defense from Oklahoma City is what gave them a slight edge after one.
The second quarter was a completely different story for Oklahoma City. The Magic outscored the Thunder 31-24 during the quarter, and the team is very fortunate that it wasn’t worse than that. Just about everything was going in for the Magic, while the Thunder struggled to find offensive rhythm. It was this way for a majority of the first half, as Oklahoma City struggled to put together any type of an offensive run.
Things only got worse during the third quarter for the Thunder on both sides of the ball. Orlando seemed to be scoring at will, while the Thunder couldn’t buy a basket, not even from the free throw line. The Magic led by as many as 21 during the quarter, but the Thunder cut the deficit to 10 points. At times, this second half felt very much like the game against Dallas on Monday night. Led by Russell Westbrook, the Thunder made another impossible fourth quarter comeback which caused overtime. Oklahoma City outscored the magic 13-4 in overtime, giving the Thunder a 114-106 victory.
Defense, Defense, Defense
Defense is a subject that we have talked about all season long when it comes to the success of the Thunder. It is no secret that defense wins games. As of late, the Thunder have struggled on the defensive side of the ball. The team certainly has their moments, or even entire quarters, but can’t seem to put together a complete game on the defensive side of the ball.
The Thunder played well on defense for the first quarter, where they allowed only 18 points. After that, the team allowed Orlando to have way too many easy buckets. Oklahoma City continued to struggle throughout the game, until it was finally crunch time. In the end, defense is what ultimately put Oklahoma City in a position to hit that shot to send the game into overtime. They got the necessary stops and then transitioned that into points on the other end. If the Thunder can put together a more well rounded defensive game, they will be extremely hard to beat.
Thunder Clinch Playoff Spot
With the win tonight, the Thunder have officially clinched a spot in this years playoffs. This achievement puts them as one of only four teams to make the playoffs in 7 out of the last 8 seasons. This is quite the achievement when you consider all that this franchise has been through with injuries and player departures over the years. The Thunder are currently in the 6th seed in the West, but only a half of a game back from the Clippers who currently hold the 5th spot. They are also now only two games back from being in control of their division. Securing the division would mean home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Russell Westbrook Is Amazing
If you missed tonights performance by Russell Westbrook, you certainly missed one for the ages. His performance tonight will be replayed on sports television for years to come. He finished the game with his 38th triple-double of the season, recording 57 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists. Not to mention his clutch deep ball three to send the game to overtime. The 57 points scored is the most ever in a triple-double in NBA history.
After tonight, Russ is now averaging 37.8 points, 12 assists, and 12 rebounds over the last four games. It certainly seems as if the Brodie is pushing his case for MVP. Not only does he have the stats to do it, he now has the clutch shots and comeback victories to back up his case. He has now led the Thunder to win eight out of their last 10 games, and he has put up some incredible numbers while doing it. Not sure who should win MVP this year? Just go back and listen to the Orlando crowd chanting “M-V-P” for Westbrook as he led the Thunder to a record setting comeback.
Home Sweet Home
The Thunder will be back home on Friday night as they have a Western Conference matchup against the San Antonio Spurs. This will be the final matchup against the Spurs for the regular season. The season series is tied one to one between these two teams. Oklahoma City won the most recent game against San Antonio, and should have the momentum heading into this one. The game will start at 7:00 PM CST and will be televised on ESPN and FSOK. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM
Article written by Craig Hofeld. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.