Game 5 left a bad taste in a lot of Thunder fans’ mouths that Game 6 would be billed as the team’s swan song for the season. Another full game out of a healthier Russell Westbrook and Houston’s 3-point firepower would certainly doom OKC’s prospects.
It would have been seen as a valiant effort from a young team but not good enough to beat the big boys in the Western Conference just yet.
But Thunder’s Law was in full effect (OKC trailed 94-92 at the 5:00 mark of the fourth quarter) and Oklahoma City won the game.
Once again, we never learned our lesson. As long as the season continues, hopefully, we never will.
First Takeaway: C. P. 3.
When you are already in a select group of the best basketball athletes in the world, even that select group has a pecking order separating the greatest, the serviceable and the forgettable.
Chris Paul is among the greatest and a Naismith Basketball Hall-of-Famer-to-be. Great players have been taken apart because, maybe, they never won a ring or never got close to winning one. Is that fair to players like Paul? No. None of us would want to be publicly defined by one of our weaknesses.
Why do that to Paul, who showed once more on Monday night that whatever “it” is, Paul has plenty of “it.”
Paul scored 15 of his 28 points in the game’s final quarter. After canning a clutch 3-pointer over Rockets forward Robert Covington, Paul, who is 35, gave Covington a tap on the rear end as if to say, “Nice try, rook.”
Covington will turn 30 years old in December.
Second Takeaway: Another Pivotal Third Quarter
The third quarter has been the quarter most dominated by the Rockets in the series. Houston went on a 7-1 run to start the second half. This time, OKC didn’t stand by and let Houston take control.
Danilo Gallinari showed off his shotmaking prowess in the third, hitting a wide-open 3-pointer, pump faking before firing off another made 3-pointer. With his back to the basket on another possession, Gallinari then faced the basket and nailed a long 2-pointer.
Gallinari finished with 12 points in the quarter and helped the Thunder take a 77-75 heading into the fourth quarter.
Third Takeaway: You’re A Good ‘Mate, Steven Adams
It’s been hard to gauge what kind of effort we would see from the Thunder’s man in the middle. Adams has been seen letting players like James Harden and others maneuver down the lane for uncontested layups throughout the series.
With OKC’s season on the line, Adams played his best game of the series. Adams hauled in seven offensive rebounds by himself in the first half of Monday’s game. The entire Rockets team tallied three offensive rebounds in the first 24 minutes of play.
The 7-footer finished with 14 rebounds in 31 minutes. Grabbing those boards not only give the Thunder more second and possibly third shot opportunities, but it also minimizes the Rockets’ ability to get out on the fastbreak where Harden and Westbrook could wreak havoc.
The Thunder making it this far is all gravy, which is true, but that isn’t a reason for them to pack it in. It’s Game 7. One of these teams will play their last game of the season on Wednesday night. Palms will be sweaty. Mistakes will be costly. Tensions will be heavy.
Will the Thunder be ready?