Kevin Durant called Friday’s 119-118 double-overtime Thunder victory at Toronto the craziest game he’s ever played. He even commemorated the contest by leaving with the game ball, having each of his teammates sign it.
It was a night that left the Thunder physically, mentally and emotionally spent.
An apparent knee injury to Russell Westbrook midway through the third quarter consumed the minds of many for most of the second half and overshadowed a fantastic finish. Now, with news that Westbrook is healthy, it’s worth looking back on an incredible night in Toronto.
Here are five things worth remembering from Friday’s thriller:
1. Durant’s takeover: It wasn’t just his final shot, a cold-blooded, 31-foot game-winning 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining. It was his entire second half and overtime periods. Durant shook off a poor first half and responded with 38 points on 12-for-20 shooting, while adding seven rebounds, five assists, one blocked shot and only one turnover in the final 34 minutes. Most impressive was how he did it on both ends. Following his game-winner, he forced Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan into taking a difficult contested fadeaway. His potential game-winner fell well short. But don’t forget about the terrific sequence Durant also turned in at the end of the first overtime. He nailed a 3 to break a 100-100 tie, and then he supplied textbook post defense on Amir Johnson, standing him up before stuffing his turnaround jump shot with 49.9 seconds left in the overtime period. The man definitely deserved to leave with the game ball.
2. The improbable comeback: Talk about March Madness. Teams don’t come back from eight points down inside the final minute of double overtime. Not on the road. Not in the NBA. But the Thunder found a way. Toronto started the final overtime on an 11-3 run, taking a 118-110 lead with 49 seconds remaining. OKC then scored nine points in 46.9 seconds. “The way our team is made up, the way they fight for each other, it’s never over,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
3. Derek Fisher’s 3-pointer: He did it again. Fisher knocked down another clutch shot. It came when the Thunder needed it most to have any chance of stealing the victory. Before he drilled it with 15.7 seconds remaining, the Thunder trailed by five and appeared to have no chance at coming out alive. But the moment the shot dropped, a comeback seemed possible. Amazingly, Fisher was just 1-for-7 from 3-point range before getting that shot to fall.
4. Ball don’t lie: After Fisher’s 3, Jeremy Lamb tipped an inbounds pass by John Salmons, and the ball squirted into the hands of Durant of all people. Durant scooped it and attacked the basket. But he appeared to get hacked by Salmons. No call. It was ruled a blocked shot, and the Raptors recovered the rebound. The Thunder fouled Salmons, but he stepped to the foul line and missed both free throws. When he did, Durant rebounded the second miss (another big defensive play by Durant) and the Thunder called timeout with 8.8 seconds remaining, setting up Durant’s dagger.
5. No shot: If the Thunder didn’t pull out the win, there would have been statewide second-guessing. Because with the ball and the shot clock off at the end of regulation, OKC didn’t even get a shot off. The Raptors double-teamed Durant at the top of the key, forcing him to pass it off. When he did, sending it to Fisher late in the clock, Fisher had trouble gathering it in and fired it up too late. Even though the Thunder has been much better at late-game execution this season, that play would have become the focal point had OKC lost.