Threes were falling, but so did the Thunder in 2 OT thriller
By Addam Francisco, Senior Writer
When a team like the San Antonio Spurs shoot flawlessly from long distance in the first half, your first thought would be 'blowout.' That wasn't the case for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Although they were decisively down for the majority of the game, they were never out of the competition.
The Thunder dropped a double-overtime thriller to the San Antonio Spurs 154-147.
Despite Russell Westbrook undoubtedly playing his best game of the season and possibly the best of his career, Thunder role players came to the rescue, time-and-time again throughout the game.
Thunder role players being Jerami Grant, Terrance Ferguson and perhaps the biggest surprise, Abdel Nader, who most wrote off by game 25. Those three combined for 55 points against the Spurs.
Grant has taken a huge leap this season in a multitude of ways, but in San Antonio, if that was your first game watching the Thunder play, you'd think he was on the fringe of being an NBA all-star. Grant earned his career-high 25 points the hard way, attacking the basket, off offensive rebounds (5) and knocking down a couple outside shots as well.
Grant was the X factor for the Thunder on Thursday night on both offense and defense. He also had 12 rebounds.
Speaking of a player doing things on both ends of the floor, Ferguson was the epitome of that. His superior on-ball defense often goes unnoticed but tonight, his three-point shooting was on front street for everyone to see. Ferguson, with the help of Westbrook who played great, kept OKC afloat in this game full of San Antonio three-point makes. He carried the momentum from Tuesday night's game where he shot 4-for-4 from three to Thursday, where he shot 7-for-10 and found himself trading threes with the Spurs.
Nader, a guy who barely got an opportunity with the Thunder, has been brilliant in the absence of Alex Abrines, who hasn't consistently been in the rotation since early December due to illness. Nader finished tonight with only nine points, but he got those nine in the most efficient way possible, shooting 4-for-4 from the field in 12 minutes. Over the past 30 days, he seems to be developing into a reliable player off the bench for OKC.
Let's talk briefly about the stars and their game.
Paul George has been the best, most consistent player for the Thunder this season but games like these remind you just how dominant Westbrook can be when he's at his best, and he was tonight.
Westbrook's 13th triple-double came in a 24-point, 24-assist, 13-rebound performance. The 24 assists were a career-high for the former MVP, but what made this all twice as special was the control he was playing under. With control came good decision making. The game seemed to be moving slower for him, while his brain was processing things quicker and more reasonably. There weren't as many of his patented wild passes resulting in turnovers or random threes that had nothing to do with the offensive play the Thunder were running. Russell finished the game with only 3 turnovers, which gave him an 8:1 assist to turnover ratio.
George played his usual game. He's been playing at a career-high clip all season and tonight he did the same thing, on both ends of the floor finishing with 30 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals.
However, this was OKC's third straight loss and they've fallen to 25-16 at the official halfway mark of the season. They'll face this same Spurs team in Oklahoma City on Saturday night.