Scrappy OKC Thunder lose in clutch to desperate 76ers: grades

JANUARY 6: Steven Adams #12 of the OKC Thunder handles the ball against the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
JANUARY 6: Steven Adams #12 of the OKC Thunder handles the ball against the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
JANUARY 06: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder drives to the basket against James Ennis III #11 of the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Entering clutch time within two points the OKC Thunder uncharacteristically got outplayed by the desperate 76ers letting one slip away.

Earlier this season when the Philadelphia 76ers lost to the OKC Thunder in overtime at the Chesapeake Energy Arena it sparked what has become the clutch time kings era. Although the Thunder can’t win them all this match sure felt like it was there for the taking.

Examining the character of the two teams offers a major disparity in clutch time as the Thunder (especially through the last 20 games) have feasted in the clutch. Conversely, the 76ers when pressed into clutch time often make silly turnovers, get tight and inevitably lose.

The one major difference on this night is the 76ers were on home court where they’ve lost twice this season and that comfort level likely was the difference. In the final 3:14, when the home club went on a 12-7 run to clinch the victory.

So many things were playing in the favor of the Thunder including a massive free throw disparity, second chance scoring and a hobbled star.

During the first quarter, the air got sucked out of Wells Fargo when Joel Embiid suffered a gruesome dislocated finger. A close up revealed the finger pointing in the wrong direction (OUCH).

149. 120. 93. Final. 113

The star tried to snap it back in place on his own but to no avail. He went to the locker room as anxious Philly fans held their breath awaiting the results. The medical team presumably x-rayed the finger, popped it back in place taped it to the neighboring finger and he returned to play.

The Cameroonian grimaced several times when shooting and was clearly in discomfort. It didn’t stop him from filling up the stat sheet but it did seem to take away some of his aggression.

That the Thunder were in this match at all was impressive. Philadelphia had been resting since Friday and stewing over losing four in a row on the road. Embiid called this a must-win. The fact OKC wasn’t behind by a lot early showed just how far this club has come.

When they got to clutch time there was a sense of ‘we got this’ which again is unfair to pin upon this team. They’ve grown by leaps and bounds but the 76ers are a very talented team with phenomenal length. The Thunder missed some open shots but in hindsight, it’s hard to complain when you get an additional 13 free throws on the road ( and worse miss 10 of them).

There’s no reason to hang their heads in this one and while the score will look like the game wasn’t close it’s deceiving.

With that let’s dive into the player grades.