The Oklahoma City Thunder weren’t supposed to win last night. But they found a way to pull it out somehow and now lead 2-0 in their series with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Thunder have been doing this all season. Their talent wins out more often than not and they are able to suddenly turn up their play when their backs are against the wall and win games.
This wasn’t the case last year though and was sort of the knock on this team. They gave up some big leads last year in the Western Conference Finals against Dallas and looked young and inexperienced in doing so.
This year they are starting to look like those teams that are ready to start winning titles. They’re looking like the ’91 Bulls or the ’00 Lakers. They’re hungry and more talented than anyone else and are figuring out the best way to win games.
We saw it again last night with James Harden becoming the primary ball handler down the stretch. The Thunder’s jump shots simply were not falling and Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were able to get shots going to the rim.
So the Thunder called on Harden to do this and while he had a few turnovers, it was the right decision to make and turned the tide of the game.
The Thunder trailed 75-68 with 2:08 to play in the game. They didn’t let the Lakers score again and scored the final nine points of the game themselves.
Durant and Westbrook forced turnovers on the next two possessions on what should have been simple passes for the Lakers. Harden blocked Kobe’s shot and then the Lakers missed their final two 3-point attempts.
The Lakers got this lead playing solid defense and establishing their inside presence on offense. It was nowhere to be found late in the game and Kobe’s hero ball doesn’t work against the Thunder especially when Thabo Sefolosha is checking him.
This is now three games so far in the playoffs that the Thunder should have lost but they are a cool 6-0 instead.
This team is starting to feel like they are destined to make the Finals this year. They have the talent to back it up too.