Clutch time OKC Thunder crew dethrone Kings: 3 takeaways

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder in action. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder in action. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

The win streak is extended to five and while the OKC Thunder tempted fate they come up on the winning side against the Kings. Three takeaways serve up the goods.

The OKC Thunder extended their win streak to five in a row and will look to extend their already franchise best road winning to 10 games this evening.

The fifth victory didn’t come without some bumps and bruises and likely a few NSFW words on the sidelines as the team once again came out of the break flat defensively.

Sacramento built the lead up to 19 points prior to the gut check time kicking in and the come back began. As always these types of wins are thrilling and Thunder Nation has experienced more than any other team with successful outcomes.

In the end, a concerted team effort with quality playmaking, spectacular big on big passing, and simply the know-how of closing out games won out.

As for entertainment fans got to witness Gallo dunking, Chris Paul teaching dance class to the Kings, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander floating over the hardwood and much more.

Here are your three takeaways…

The bane of the Thunder – third quarters:

Clearly this isn’t something that is going to go away easily. We’ll get a game where the team, players, and fans get an idea of precisely how dominant this club could be if they ever committed to correcting that darn third quarter.

Granted, the Kings already held an 11 point lead at that point, but that should be even more reason to come out with aggressive defense. Right?

In fairness, this club does so much well and it’s not like you can erase your subconscious from knowing ‘hey we kill in clutch time situations‘.  It feels like the only thing that would erase that thought process is a good old fashion beat down where they aren’t capable of coming back or one where they lose in heartbreaking fashion at clutch time.

Not that anyone is condoning those things happening — simply that’s all I can think of that might shift the current consciousness to fix this habit.

Billy Donovan and players on the same page:

When fans look back at this season undoubtedly the thrilling late wins will be top of mind. The more specific components of this team are for the first time in years (ever?) we’re getting to see set playsets offensively that aren’t simply iso-ball.

That’s because this group plays as a team.

One thing of note though is the interaction of the players with the Head Coach Billy Donovan. TI writer Rylan Stiles and I discussed this tonight as we watched one after another of the players nodding to everything BillyD said in the huddle. Some players high fiving the bench boss as they came back on the court. Or looking over to get some sore of information or play call from the coach.

That sure isn’t something we’re used to seeing. And hey, this isn’t a team full of 20-year-olds. Chris Paul might be the most intelligent player on the court – against any team. Yet, he frequently looks over when Donovan talks or speaks with him during free throws.

It’s clear this iteration of the OKC Thunder have a greater respect for their coach and that’s also partially why the team is succeeding and continuing to grow.

Floats like a butterfly – stings like a bee…

Every time I watch Shai Gilgeous-Alexander his smooth glide on the court it calls into mind someone floating or gliding. His style is so unique and specific if he was on the court with 100’s of others all wearing the same jersey any of us could easily pick him out.

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It brings to mind something most analysts say regarding sophomore seasons. To that point, most rookies experience a slight downshift in their second years because there is a body of film work for opponent coaches to use when game planning and diligent players have spent the offseason studying.

The result is often a slight regression as sophomores discover they’ll need to add things to their games in order to grow and be less predictable.

SGA seemingly skipped the terrible two’s and brought the terrific three’s to the floor this season. this is likely a combination of his own offseason work ethic and no doubt the influence of his mentor Chris Paul.

Moving forward, as surely as the Canadian grew this season you can bet he’ll be focused on improving his 3-point efficiency among other things when he eventually hits those summer workouts.

For the moment, Thunder Nation can basque in the ever-growing game that at this point in his career is a limitless ceiling.

Next. Thunder erase 19 point deficit to claim 5th in a row: grades. dark

In the interim, the group assembled at your narrator’s dwelling during games have taken to citing Muhammad Ali when Gilgeous-Alexander goes into his offensive motion.