When its lead had vanished, as it has all season, and the Thunder looked primed for more fourth-quarter blues, something miraculous happened inside the Ford Center on Friday night.
Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook said no more and made all the right plays down the stretch to lead the Thunder to a 91-83 win over the Toronto Raptors.
Oklahoma City’s young trio scored the Thunder’s final 15 points, showing some rarely seen resilience after Toronto had erased a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit to tie it at 76-all with 4:38 remaining.
The win moved the Thunder to 3-24, snapping an eight-game losing streak and sparking a festive celebration with orange and blue confetti falling from the rafters.
"I forgot the feeling,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks, smiling in his postgame press conference for the first time since his inaugural triumph on Nov. 29. "It’s been over 40 days (since the last home victory). It’s good to be up here and not talk about the broken record that we’ve been talking about. There’s plenty of times I wanted to change the subject and talk about OU football.”
Instead, the Thunder can rejoice about how its young core took a step forward on Friday, how Westbrook, Green and Durant impressively led the Thunder’s attack as it closed out an opponent through hustle, defense, teamwork and timely shots.
"These are learning experiences for them, to get to the end of the game and be able to pull it out and make smart plays down the stretch,” said forward Desmond Mason, who replaced Damien Wilkins in the starting lineup and finished with 10 rebounds and four assists.