Jay Z and Beyoncé sat courtside. From what I'm told, they're a fairly big deal in the music business. I guess that makes them the biggest celebrities to watch a ballgame on Reno Avenue. Step aside, James Cromwell.
But Charles Barkley was here, too, calling the game for TNT, and so were Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, ghosts of Oklahoma hoops past.
Then a Piedmont schoolteacher tossed in a half-court shot to win $20,000 and ignite an already-burning building.
And best of all, the Thunder zipped to a 9-1 lead and whipped the Clippers 105-91 Thursday night.
Talk about a fun night at the opera.
“Jay Z was there? I didn't see him,” Thabo Sefolosha deadpanned. Then Thabo giggled at his own silliness.
Thabo and everybody else knew who was sitting on the front row. And who was on the court, making life miserable for the weary Clippers.
Not just Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, but Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson and Steven Adams, the pups who took another step toward maturity with the Thunder's best victory of the season.
“Tonight was a fun game,” Thabo said. “Good energy in the building. Team played extremely well from start to finish. A game we had under control, and that's something positive for us.”
After close-call home victories over mediocre opponents, it was about time the Thunder showed some dominance. Dominance shown.
The Thunder outscored the Clips in every quarter. The Clippers never got closer than six points the final 391/2 minutes.
Durant had, for him, a so-so game of 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting, and Westbrook had, for him, a poor game of 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting.
And it didn't matter. Ibaka was smooth and efficient, with 17 points on 10 shots. Lamb had 11 points. Jackson was fearless. Adams had seven rebounds and three blocked shots.
Scotty Brooks started his B Team in the second quarter, and in the almost five minutes before he recalled Durant and Westbrook, the Thunder's 28-22 lead had grown to 39-26.
Best of all, the Thunder played defense the entire night. Griffin had his moments — 15 points and five rebounds in the third quarter alone — and Paul was superb as always. But never did the Thunder let the Clippers get on a roll.
Hard to imagine a better night.
Even Griffin, who got booed a little in his hometown for his past tussles with Ibaka, admitted the NBA in OKC was a cool thing.
“Obviously, growing up, I couldn't even picture this,” Griffin said. “They got the Hornets, and I remember being so excited. Now they've settled in to a nice little groove. Everybody knows when you come here, the fans are going to be great, it's going to be loud, they're going to play hard. It's a fun atmosphere.”
Nobody should dispute that. You'd know better than I what Barkley thought, but Jay Z and Beyoncé seemed to have a grand time.
“That was crazy,” Durant said of the courtside celebrities. “I don't even know how to describe that one right there.”
Well, how about this description. Jay Z's talent agency represents Durant. Maybe that explains it.
“It was cool to have them here,” Durant said.
And Jay Z and his bride thought it was cool when fan Brad Brucker banked in the half-court shot during a second-quarter timeout, the second straight Thunder game in which MidFirst Bank handed out a $20,000 check for such marksmanship.
Easy for everyone not in Clipper red to enjoy this night at the opera.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.