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Oklahoma City Thunder: Fan's half-court shot gives crowd, team a charge

The cheer was deafening when Larry Hill's shot found the bottom of the net. The buzz kept going as an already amped playoff crowd went to another level. The Thunder rode that wave, too, in its Game 1 win over the Rockets.
by Jenni Carlson Published: April 23, 2013

Scott Brooks didn't see the shot, but he heard the reaction.

The roar told him all he needed to know.

“It happened again,” the Thunder coach thought.

It sure did.

Sunday night, another Thunder fan hit another half-court shot to win $20,000. Larry Hill, a counselor at Britton Elementary School in Oklahoma City, became the third fan this season to win the MidFirst Bank Shot Contest, and just like the first couple times, it sent a charge through the arena.

Through the team, too.

Lest you suspect players and coaches are robots who would be unaffected by a fan contest, think again. Even though they were huddled up doing whatever they do when they huddle up before the start of the fourth quarter, they couldn't help but notice.

“You have to when the crowd goes nuts,” Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook said.

The cheer was deafening when Hill's shot found the bottom of the net. What's more, the buzz kept going as an already amped playoff crowd went to another level.

The Thunder rode that wave, too.

Already leading by 23 points heading into the fourth quarter, the boys in blue scored seven unanswered points in less than 90 seconds. Kevin Durant threw down a dunk and was fouled, Kevin Martin nailed a pullup jumper, and Nick Collison made a layup.

Just like that, the Thunder lead was 30 points.

Did the half-court shot help?

Sure didn't hurt.

“It gives us a lift,” Westbrook said.

You can see it in the players' reactions.

On March 24 when Justin Dougherty hit the half-court shot, Durant became part of the celebration. Dougherty happened to notice the Thunder superstar watching him, and he motioned to Durant to come out on the floor.

Durant ran to midcourt and playfully tackled Dougherty.

Sunday night after Hill's shot, he made a beeline for the Thunder bench, where the team was huddling. He got a high five and a hug from Thabo Sefolosha.

Half-court mania isn't a new phenomenon. Brooks remembers getting a charge when fans won the half-court shot contest during his playing days in Philadelphia.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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