Thunder Insider: Third quarter toughness turns the tide against Phoenix

by Darnell Mayberry Published: March 6, 2011

Vince Carter couldn't be stopped.

The eight-time All-Star splashed in one rainbow 3-pointer after another in the first half against the Thunder on Sunday. He drained four of them in the first 24 minutes and appeared to be on his way to one of his old “Half Man, Half Amazing” performances.

Carter's first two buckets of the third quarter — a step back jumper and a nifty layup off a feed from Steve Nash — looked effortless. They gave him his 18th and 20th points, respectively, and gave the impression that this night simply would belong to him.

Then Thabo Sefolosha did something to stop it.

With 8:35 left to play in the third period, Sefolosha fought through a screen and closed out on a 13-foot jumper by Carter just in time to swat the attempt into the second row. The crowd came alive. The Thunder did, too.

Oklahoma City spent the rest of the period playing as tough as it has all season. And in the end, that effort spurred Sunday night's 122-118 overtime win over the Suns.

“After 24 minutes, we were trailing and we said if we keep trading baskets with them we might lose this game,” Sefolosha said. “So I think everybody made a conscious effort of giving a little something extra to the team.”

Did they ever?

Sefolosha's swat on Carter was the first of five blocked shots the Thunder had in the period. OKC had nine for the game.

Less than a minute after rejecting Carter, Sefolosha swatted away a dunk attempt by Suns center Robin Lopez. Sefolosha stared at a five-inch height disadvantage but stared down the Suns' center and stood tall in front of the rim. Serge Ibaka followed with a rejection on Carter on the Suns' second-chance.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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