OAKLAND, Calif. — Jeff Green squared up at the perfect angle, aimed and fired. But did he call it? “Yup,” he said with a sly laugh.
Green buried the Golden State Warriors, 122-121, with a 16-foot bank shot from the right wing that fell through the net as timed expired. Green’s first career game-winner will also go down as the first in the Thunder’s short history. It came on an inbounds pass from Russell Westbrook after Warriors guard Jamal Crawford banked in a go-ahead runner at the other end with 1.6 seconds left. “I was just trying to keep my composure,” said Green, who scored 26 on the night. “That’s a lot of time left. That’s one dribble and a pull up. I just tried to stay with my shot. I didn’t try to rush it and it went in.” Warriors coach Don Nelson wasn’t sold. “A lucky shot beat us tonight,” Nelson said. “I don’t believe he called bank on the shot. I believe he shot it so poorly it went in.” Nevertheless, it lifted the Thunder to 9-34, assuring Oklahoma City that after a 3-29 start it won’t set a new mark for the worst record in NBA history. The 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers finished 9-73. “That was never even an issue,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “I know our team was better than that.” But only now is the Thunder proving it, with five wins this month and two road victories in the past three tries. Add to that, four of Oklahoma City’s five January losses have come by a combined 13 points, signaling a newfound competitiveness the Thunder lacked early in the season both at home and on the road. “We’re going to keep pushing,” Green said. Thunder Rumblings blog: News and notes from the game Box score