The Thunder signed Derek Fisher on March 21, and we got all excited. A Laker is coming, a Laker is coming.
Fisher showed up, spoke with command and wisdom and humanity, and we saw what made him such a great leader, on and off the court, for 16 NBA seasons.
Then Fisher donned the Thunder threads, played a game or 10, and we saw an old man. Saw a 37-year-old who couldn't stay in front of younger point guards anymore and couldn't seem to hit all those clutch shots we saw swish for the Lakers when the NBA was but a gleam in our eye.
The Thunder was 34-12 when Fisher arrived and led the Western Conference by 3½ games. With Fisher, the Thunder went 13-7, including 7-7 in its final 14 games, and finished behind the Spurs in the West. Fisher shot 34 percent from the field.
But we forgot one thing. The Thunder didn't sign Fisher to play against the Timberwolves in March or against the Kings in April.
The Thunder signed Fisher for the playoffs. Signed Fisher for the games that are paramount. Signed Fisher for the series in which possessions are magnified, the series in which guts and guile rise in value.
Old man? No fooling. Old man winner.
The Thunder finished off a sweep of the Mavericks on Saturday night, and Fisher was superb. Just like he was all series long.
Fisher made five of his six shots, both of his 3-point shots, and scored 12 points. Better yet, the Thunder flourished with Fisher on the court. Outscored Dallas by 21 points with Fisher in the game.
Which was nothing new. Fisher also was plus-11 in a tight Game 2. For the series, James Harden led the Thunder in plus/minus – with Harden on the floor, OKC outscored the Mavericks by 48 points in the four games. Fisher was second with plus-36.
That's better than Kevin Durant (plus-20), Russell Westbrook (plus-8), Serge Ibaka (plus-29), Kendrick Perkins (plus-13) or Nick Collison (plus-19).
Fisher's plus/minus would have been even better if not for the last 41/2 minutes of Game 3, when he was on the court with the third-stringers as Dallas outscored the Thunder 10-0 to close out an OKC rout.
“Derek made big shots,” said Scotty Brooks. “He had a great series.”