For the third time this season, a Thunder fan made the MidFirst Bank half-court shot between the third and fourth quarters to win $20,000.
Sunday's winner was 26-year-old Larry Hill of Oklahoma City, a counselor at Britton Elementary School who was attending his first Thunder game. It also was the birthday of his girlfriend, Nikki.
Hill played basketball and ran track at Douglass High School, and also ran track in college at Missouri-Kansas City.
Houston is in the playoffs as the NBA's youngest team and the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, which has drawn comparisons to four seasons ago when the No. 8-seeded Thunder also was the league's youngest team in the playoffs.
Rockets coach Kevin McHale explained how experience has always been the best teacher.
“I think with any team, especially as young as we are, you have to start somewhere,” McHale said. “The object is to make the playoffs. Now that we're here, we've got two games here (in OKC), the objective is to win one of them. We accomplished what we wanted to do. We made the playoffs. I thought that would be a really big thing for our team. When we started out the season, I said our goal was to make the playoffs.”
It certainly was an inauspicious start for Houston, which was throttled 120-91 in Game 1 at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Game 2 is Wednesday at 6 p.m. at The Peake.
“They don't say, ‘I gained experience sitting and listening to somebody.' They say, ‘I gained experience by doing it,' ” McHale said. “You've got to do it. Life's about doing things, especially in sports, so that's going to great for our guys.”
McHale is a Hall of Fame and seven-time All-Star who won three world championships with the Boston Celtics and said one of the reasons he likes the playoffs is you get to narrow your focus in on one team rather than the entire NBA.
“You're playing the same team every day, so all you have to do is figure out a way to beat this team,” McHale said. “That's the fun thing about the playoffs. You're not worried about playing San Antonio tomorrow, then fly into Memphis. It's ‘What do we have to do to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder?' You can put all your emphasis on that. That's what makes the playoffs fun.”
The Thunder's 120 points is an OKC franchise record for postseason points, edging the 119 scored in Game 1 against the Los Angeles Lakers last season. … Spotted in the crowd was former Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer, who was seated next to former Oklahoma City mayor Ron Norick. … Home teams went 8-0 in the opening round of the playoffs.