A win on the road has been a rarity for the Thunder this season, so Wednesday’s victory over Indiana was good for the team, but it was not a pretty game. Oklahoma City came into tonight’s matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers with a focus that has not been seen much lately.
The Thunder got off to a hot start, knocking down six of their first eight attempts from the field, but the 76ers could not miss at first. Philadelphia started 5/5 from the field, and the score was tied up at 12-12 a little over four minutes into the game.
As the defenses started to settle, Oklahoma City pulled away just a little bit. Russell Westbrook filled the stat sheet in the first twelve minutes, racking up six points, five assists, and five rebounds. Carmelo Anthony added eight points on 4/5 (80%) shooting from the floor, and Paul George had six points on 2/2 from the three. At the end of the quarter, Oklahoma City led 28-21.
With a Thunder lineup consisting of Steven Adams and four bench players, the 76ers ran off six quick points to start the second quarter, but Josh Huestis would end any semblance of a scoring run with a monster double-pump dunk over Joel Embiid. A couple of minutes later, Anthony would check in for Adams. The Thunder would increase their lead to 17 points midway through the period behind Anthony’s hot hand, but Philadelphia would knock down three threes and a layup to cap an 11-0 run with three minutes to go in the half.
Anthony would hit a three to stop the 76er run, giving him 16 points on 7/10 (70%) shooting so far for the night, and despite Westbrook struggling to shoot the ball in the first half, making only two of seven attempts, he put up eight points, eight assists, and seven rebounds. At the half, Oklahoma City held a 55-47 lead over Philadelphia.
The third quarter has been the death of the Thunder on many nights this season, but Oklahoma City looked focused right out of halftime. Early in the period, Russell Westbrook found Steven Adams and then Andre Roberson on back-to-back alley-oop dunks, and less than three minutes into the second half, Westbrook already had 11 assists for the night, and the Thunder had a 13-point lead.
Oklahoma City would maintain a strong lead for most of the quarter, despite Philadelphia’s multiple attempts to close in. Joel Embiid managed to find his way to the free throw line six times in the final 2:49 of the quarter, however, making him 8/8 from the charity stripe on the night, and at the end of the period, the Thunder held a narrow 81-77 lead over the 76ers.
Josh Huestis opened up the quarter for the Thunder by knocking down a three, but Philadelphia would score four points straight to draw even closer. Then it was Raymond Felton’s turn to hit a three, his fourth on as many shots for the night. Paul George would hit a three, and with just a little over seven minutes to go, Oklahoma City held a 90-81 lead.
All of a sudden, the wheels started to fall off for Oklahoma City. Philadelphia would go on a 14-4 run to tie up the game for the first time since the score was 12-12 a little over four minutes into the game. At 94-94 with just 53 seconds left in the game, neither team would score, and for the second time in four games, the Thunder were headed to overtime.
Joel Embiid continued to do work for the 76ers as he gave Philadelphia the lead on the first possession of overtime, but Carmelo Anthony would take his first shot since the third quarter and knock it down to tie it up. Embiid would score again, and then after a missed shot and turnover by the Thunder, Robert Covington would dunk the ball to give the 76ers a four-point lead with just under two minutes left in overtime. After Russell Westbrook split a pair of free throws, JJ Redick would hit a shot to give Philadelphia their largest lead of the night at 102-97 with 1:21 left in the game. Paul George would then hit a three followed by a layup by Westbrook to tie it up at 102-102 and 36.3 seconds on the clock. Nobody would score, and the Thunder and the 76ers would move on to double overtime.
Carmelo Anthony opened up the scoring in double overtime to put Oklahoma City on top, but Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid would each score to take over the lead for Philadelphia. Despite a terrible shooting night, Russell Westbrook would come down and knockdown a clutch three to give the Thunder a one-point lead. Robert Covington would answer with a three of his own for Philadelphia, but Paul George would hit a layup to tie it all up at 109 apiece with 2:14 to play in double overtime. Westbrook would hit another shot, followed by an Embiid layup with 1:06 left. Nobody would score in the final minute, and with a tie game of 111-111, triple overtime beckoned.
Triple overtime would be the one to decide the game, but it still came down to the wire. Russell Westbrook scored the Thunder’s first six points in overtime, but Joel Embiid kept answering, and with 1:31 to go, the game was all tied up at 117-117. After a number of misses from Oklahoma City, the Thunder called a timeout with 27.2 seconds left on the game clock and 20 seconds left on the shot clock. In an unexpected turn of events, Westbrook found Andre Roberson underneath the basket, who hit a layup to put Oklahoma City up by two with 9.6 seconds to play. Philadelphia called a timeout and ran a well-executed play, but with just a couple of seconds to go, JJ Redick put up a three that was blocked by Patrick Patterson, who was filling in for Steven Adams, who had fouled out. Russell Westbrook would recover the block, get fouled, and miss both free throws, but there was no time left for the 76ers, and Oklahoma City would escape Philadelphia with the 119-117 win.
Melo’s Return to the Big Apple
Oklahoma City heads to New York next to take on the Knicks tomorrow night as Carmelo Anthony will return to the Big Apple for the first time since being traded to the Thunder in October. The Knicks are 15-13 and riding a three-game win streak. The game will tip off at 6:30 PM and will be televised on FSOK and NBA TV. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
Be sure to check out our latest episode of “Thunder Things with the Thunder Guys.”
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter & Instagram, and give us a like on Facebook.