Oklahoma City – The Thunder hosted the Pelicans tonight and it was set to be a matchup of two teams that looked to get back in the win column but also a little short handed.
For the Pelicans, they were missing their franchise player Zion Williamson and for the Thunder they were missing their best defender Lu Dort. The Pelicans haven’t had Zion all season so they’ve learned how to play without him to this point but the Thunder have only played a few games without Dort and don’t really have anyone to replace him.
The Pelicans are, by names, the more talented team but haven’t been able to really put it together so it could translate on the court and have been a big disappointment while the Thunder have overachieved a little. Because of that, the game was set to be competitive and that it was.
From tip-off it was a very competitive game all night with the Thunder having one of their better first quarters in a while. They moved the ball and had plenty of player moment while also do a great job of playing some pretty good defense and doing a great job of turning the Pelicans over.
They truly came out and set the tone for the night and it was fun to watch because their defense had been a little bad in recent games.
It was one of their better games of the season and they fought until the very last second but it didn’t end the way the wanted and fell to the Pelicans 113-110 due to a 3/4 court game winner from Devonte’ Graham.
Yes, you read read that correctly, it was a 3/4 court game winner. And that was after Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit one of the craziest shots of the season to tie the game. It was truly the wildest ending to a game I’ve ever seen.
First, with 4.5 seconds left and down 3, the Thunder knew the Pelicans were going to foul them to make this a free throw contest to end the game because that’s what they did on the previous possession. With that in mind Shai avoided the foul even though Pelicans Garrett Temple was very actively trying to foul him and just threw up a prayer from the logo and hit it. The crowd is going crazy because just a few second prior it seemed like it was a for sure win for the Pelicans and now the game is tied and going to overtime.
Pelicans told the Thunder to hold my beer though.
Second, with no timeouts and the thought of choking the game in their minds, the Pelicans only had 1.4 seconds left to get something up to try and win the game. No timeouts meant they couldn’t advance the ball so they had 1.4 seconds to go full court. They didn’t need it.
Devonte’ Graham doesn’t take the ball out bc he said he wanted the shot so Josh Hart picks up the ball and takes it out. He throws it to Graham who takes 1 dribble and just throws the ball up. Like previously stated, he hits it from 3/4 court shot to win the game.
Now the Thunder who were just extremely excited because they thought they had just hit one of the craziest shots of the season to have a chance to win it in overtime are now a little heartbroken because the game is now over due to another crazy shot hit by the Pelicans.
As the great Shaquille O’Neal once said, “one lucky shot deserves another.”
Normally there would be 3 reasons why the Thunder lost this game because normally, it would be easy to come up with 3. That wasn’t the case for this game because I truly believe the Thunder didn’t lose. The Pelicans just won.
Shai showed up like the star he is and matched Brandon Ingram’s play bucket for bucket. Giddey showed up and looked like the Rookie of the Year. The bench was great scoring 52 points which is the second most they’ve had all season. They didn’t settle for 3s shooting 37% from there. They hit all their free throws going 19-19 from the line. They limited turnovers. They played well in the paint. There really isn’t anything bad you could say about their performance as a team last night. Especially missing their second best player.
If there was one reason to point to as to why they lost though, it would have been in the second quarter when the Thunder bench was playing great basketball and got the lead up to 12 and had all the momentum but the starters came back in and squandered that lead letting the Pelicans get back in the game. Other than that, nothing went wrong for the Thunder. They just had a guy hit an amazing shot to take the win from them.
The Thunder were led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who had 33 points and 5 rebounds. Giddy had another great all around game with 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. Both Kenrich Williams and Mike Muscala were great off the bench with Kenrich having 17 points and 6 rebounds while Muscala added 16 points and 5 rebounds.
The Thunder look to get back in the win column on Saturday night when they face off against the Clippers at home.
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