“I guess I got my swagger back.” Jay Z infamously said in his 2011 hit “Otis” with Kanye West.
Thunder Tie the Series
The Thunder have the same feeling as they knot up the series with the Rockets with a 117-114 victory.
It was a wild game to say the least, starting with a ridiculous shooting display from both sides. The Thunder opened the game shooting 4/4 with 3 3 pointers giving them their largest lead at 8. The Rockets (not to be outdone) put on some ridiculous shooting themselves. Coming out of the half tied up at 60-60, the Rockets took full control scoring 30 (!) straight points on a scorching 10/10 (!!) shooting including 7/7 3’s (!!!) ballooning to their largest lead of 15 points. The Thunder were able to fight and scratch and claw their way back into it thanks to timely Chris Paul (more on him later) midrange buckets, and a corner Dennis Schröder (him too) 3 to put the Thunder within 1 point.
Going into the fourth, the household name Luguentz Dort, known Harden stopper had 4 fouls and it didn’t take him long (13 seconds) to pick up his 5th foul. Robert Covington nailed a 3 immediately after the foul, and things were looking grim. But the Thunder kept chipping away and were able to finally lock in defensively and force the red hot (and I mean RED HOT) Rockets into bad/tough shots.
Thunder Keys to Victory
The 3 Keys to this win are simple.
1. Small Ball
We saw in the end of game 3, what Thunder fans have been begging to see the whole series; Danilo Gallinari at the 5. The Thunder went on to dominate overtime, and it left us wanting more. Naturally, you can’t just let a guy like Steven Adams not play in the game. In fact he had a solid game of 12 points and 8 rebounds (4 offensive). But when it came time to close the game at the 4:34 mark Dennis subbed in for Adams, with Gallo going to the 5, and we were able to take care of business.
2. The best 3 man lineup in the league
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schröder, and Chris Paul all put the work in this win. Shai putting in 44 minutes as our iron man, and putting together a line of 18 (7-17, 2-5 from 3) 12 rebounds, and 6 assists. Those 12 boards are important, as it led the team and it takes pressure off Billy for having to keep Adams out there, as SGA is a capable rebounder. Dennis was all gas no brakes from jump, scoring 30 on 10-16 4-7 from deep, as well as 14 in the first half when our offense seemed to stagnate, hitting his first 4 shots. Then, it was CP3. Scoring just 4 points on 2-7 shooting in the first half, Chris Paul responded on Mamba Day with a Mamba Mentality performance of 22 points on 8-10 shooting in the 2nd half, including 8 points in the clutch. When these 3 are clicking, OKC is going to be a tough out.
3. Lu Freaking Dort.
Lu had his coming out party in game 3. He was trending worldwide. Doris Burke was singing his praises on the ESPN broadcast. He was THE Harden Stopper. Then Game 4 happened. He got into foul trouble, and James Harden was cooking and I mean COOKING. As I said earlier he picked up his 5th foul with 11:47 left in the game. A lot of UNDRAFTED ROOKIES could just chalk it up to not his night and try to not foul again, but know it’s pretty much inevitable at this point. NOT LU DORT. Not only did he not foul out, but he held Harden to 3-7 shooting, 7 points in the remainder of the game. Dort is just built different, and he gives the Thunder a defensive mercenary.
2-2 going back to Houston now….. PSYCH! All these games are at the same locale. Sure the virtual fans may change, but home or away we are at Orlando. The Thunder have something that they lacked for the first 2 games, and they look for it to carry through the next 2 (fingers crossed) games, and that’s Momentum baby.
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