The Oklahoma City Thunder (32-21) proved that they can compete with the best in the NBA on Sunday as they played the Boston Celtics (37-15) in a slugfest that went down to the wire. After 20 lead changes and 11 ties, however, the Celtics were able to get out of the ‘Peake with a 112-111 victory over the Thunder.
The Thunder had an up and down opening quarter. After missing their first 4 shots of the game, they went on to make 9 of their next 12, but the Celtics were knocking them down as well.
After exchanging the lead a number of times, Boston went on a 7-0 run to take a 28-22 lead with 2:05 left in the first quarter. OKC answered, though, with a 10-0 run in the final 2 minutes of the period to take a 32-28 lead.
The Celtics came out with an answer in the second quarter to start the period on a 12-4 run, giving them a 40-36 lead with 7:29 left in the first half. The Thunder answered yet again, this time with a 15-2 run over the following 4 minutes to put OKC on top 51-42 with 3:47 left in the second period.
OKC and Boston matched each others’ point totals the rest of the quarter, and the Thunder entered halftime on top 61-52.
Danilo Gallinari started the second half by knocking down a free throw because Marcus Smart was whistled for a technical foul headed into halftime. The shot gave the Thunder a double-digit lead, but it did not last for long as the Celtics came out in the second half with some adjustments.
7 straight points for Boston cut the Thunder advantage to 3, and before long, the Celtics had the lead. OKC and Boston battled back and forth for much of the third quarter, but the Celtics looked like they might pull away after several possessions. The Thunder continued to fight, though, and at the end of the period, it was all tied up at 84-84.
The fourth quarter was about as wild of a finish as you could hope for. The teams continued to exchanged leads for the first few minutes, but Boston took a 93-91 lead with 8:19 to go in the ball game, and they never looked back.
With 1:40 left to play, the Celtics held a 110-101 advantage over the Thunder, and it appeared to be over. OKC had other plans, however, and they managed to trim the deficit and make it a game.
The Thunder failed to knock down clutch shots that they have grown so accustomed to making, and there was not enough time left in the game to complete the comeback. Chris Paul hit a 3 at the buzzer, but it was too little too late, and it was the Celtics leaving with the 112-111 win.
Showdown with the Spurs
Next up for the Thunder is a Tuesday night matchup with the San Antonio Spurs (22-30). The Spurs will be playing in the second game of a back-to-back after they take on the Nuggets in Denver on Monday night.
The Thunder and the Spurs have split the season series so far this season at 1-1 with both of those games being played in San Antonio. Now the Thunder gets a shot at the Spurs at home, and as solid as OKC has been lately, the Spurs have struggled.
Riding a 4-game losing streak, the Spurs have won just 2 of their last 9. The Thunder needs to keep the ball rolling as the All-Star Break draws near, and a home matchup with the struggling Spurs fits right into that plan.
Tip-off for that game is at 7 PM, and it will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
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