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Oklahoma City Thunder

Paul George Leads Thunder to Largest Comeback in Franchise History

Zachary Low

zacharylow88

Game #23 - Nets - Recap Stats.png

The Oklahoma City trailed Brooklyn by 23 points at one point on Wednesday evening, but that did not stop Paul George and Russell Westbrook as the Thunder roared back in the fourth quarter to defeat the Nets 114-112.

Both the Thunder and the Nets came out shooting fire to start the game, specifically from long distance. Just three minutes into the game, both teams had hit two threes each, and the OKC led 10-8. The Thunder maintained their lead for most of the opening quarter, but they cooled off quickly, and the Nets jumped out to take a 26-24 lead to finish off the first.

The second quarter continued the cold shooting for OKC, and Brooklyn ran off 10 quick points before the Thunder could find the hoop over four minutes into the period. The Nets kept scoring, and the Thunder kept struggling, and midway through the second, Brooklyn held a 19-4 advantage in the quarter. The Net went up by 19 at one point, and the Thunder was able to cut into the deficit some, but at the half, it was all Brooklyn as the Nets led 62-46.

The third quarter was more of the same for OKC as the Nets took their largest lead of the night 75-52 just a little over 3 minutes into the second half. A 7-0 run in response by OKC looked like a turning point, but the Nets ran off 6 quick points of their own to go right back up by 22 midway through the period. The Thunder never really could get much going, and at the end of the third, the Nets led 93-75.

The fourth quarter opened up with a couple of free throw for Brooklyn as they pushed their lead back to 20. All hope was nearly lost, and with 7:25 left in the game, OKC still trailed 100-85.

Insert Paul George takeover game.

In the final 7:11 of the game, it was almost all George. He scored 25 of the Thunder’s final 29 points, and OKC was able to do just enough to get themselves back into the game. With just 8.1 seconds left on the clock, the Thunder ran a perfect play out of a timeout to set up PG for the game winner, and he delivered.

After the make by George, the Nets had 3.1 seconds to try to tie or win it, but Russell Westbrook was able to make a play and deflect the ball out-of-bounds with just .1 of a second left. Brooklyn was unable to get the tip in, and the Thunder escaped with a 114-112 win.

Thunder Player of the Game

Paul George played his best game in a Thunder uniform and perhaps the best game of his career as he led OKC back from 23 down and hit his first career-game winner.. George finished the game with 47 points on 15-27 (55.6%) from the field, including 6-13 (46.2%) from three, and 11-14 (78.6%) from the free throw line. He also grabbed 15 rebounds, including 3 on the offensive end that turned out to be extremely clutch, while dishing out 4 assists. Of George’s 47 points, 35 came in the second half and 25 came in the 4th quarter, a career-high single-quarter total for him and a franchise-high for a single quarter. His offense brought the Thunder back from the dead, but his defense should not be overlooked. He had 1 block and 0 steals on the night, but he had a number of key deflections, and he was everywhere he needed to be, especially when it counted.

3 Quick Thoughts

  • Settling for Jump Shots Has To Stop: When the Thunder is facing any type of real deficit, they tend to default to one move on offense: shoot a jump shot. It makes sense that whenever you’re down by double digits that you need to do whatever it takes to play catchup, which means shooting threes, but this team is not a good three-point shooting team. They’re not even an average three-point shooting team. Simply put, this team succeeds when the defense plays well and forces turnovers and allows them to get out into transition to score easy points in the paint. When the defense cannot make stops, the offense has to figure out a way to score points. Ideally, that means kicking it inside to Steven Adams, not jacking up ugly shots after dribbling the ball for 20 seconds of the shot clock.
  • Resilience is Key: So many times, I have seen Thunder teams fold when things get tough and walk away with a loss. Time and time again this season, that has not been the case. Tonight was no different as the Thunder got down by a lot early in the game, and push after push to get back into it was shut down by Brooklyn’s three-point barrage. Even still, OKC did not quit, and while one man got most of the glory for the night, it was the team effort that allowed the Thunder to leave town with their fourth consecutive win.
  • Congrats to Russell Westbrook: Russ had perhaps one of the quietest triple-doubles in his storied history of racking up stats. Westbrook finished the night with 21 points, 17 assists, and 15 rebounds to record his 4th triple-double of the season and 108th of his career. The stat line makes him sole owner of third place on the all-time triple-double list, ahead of Hall of Famer Jason Kidd. Westbrook’s role in the Thunder’s comeback should not be overlooked as he had 5 assists in the fourth quarter, including 4 to Paul George, as well as the game-sealing defensive play in the final seconds.

Finish It In Chi-Town

The Oklahoma City Thunder is headed to Chicago to take on the Bulls for the last leg of this 3-game road trip before heading home. The Thunder takes on the Bulls on Friday, and Chicago has not had a great season so far. At 5-20, the Bulls are the worst team in the NBA. Tip-off is set for 7 PM, and the game will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. The game will also be broadcast on the radio on WWLS 98.1 FM.

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