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Thunder-Grizzlies: How Caron Butler's contributions went beyond a surprising dunk

THUNDER 100, GRIZZLIES 86 — Thunder general manager Sam Presti brought Caron Butler for games like this. A look at the dunk that ignited Oklahoma City’s Game 1 victory.
by Anthony Slater Published: April 20, 2014

Caron Butler pumped on the wing, darted toward the lane and rocked in a one-hand highlight hammer dunk.

The Thunder crowd let out a collective roar. But it was preceded by a quick moment of confusion – a momentary silence indicating a general “Wait, what?” feeling.

“Caron’s dunk probably surprised 18,203 fans,” Scott Brooks joked. “As well as the staff and our players.”

But it fired them up, too.

Before the dunk – which came with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter – Memphis had outscored the Thunder 35-16 to start the second half, cutting a 22-point lead to three. After the slam, OKC closed the game on a 28-17 burst, putting away a pesky Grizzlies team, 100-86, for a Game 1 victory.

“It gave us a spark,” Brooks said. “At that point, we were bending a little bit. But we didn’t break. And I thought that was a great opportunity by him. He took it strong and he finished.”

"It felt good," Butler said. "I've been taking care of my body as a tribute to the training staff, got my body fat down. So that was big. It felt good to get up."

The dunk, though, wasn’t all that Butler did.

Throughout the night, he was a tough, steadying force in a frantic environment. He provided an on-court veteran calm that the Thunder envisioned when scooping him up off the free agency scrap heap in late February.

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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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