Thunder Escape Charlotte With a 104-102 win in Overtime
Going to bet you have never seen a team with a one-point lead at the beginning of overtime? Well, if you have, then you saw it again on Friday night. If you haven't, then count yourself as the rest of us and be thankful that the one-point lead had the Thunder on the high side. How did all this happen? Glad you asked. At the end of regulation, Chris Paul fired a corner three that hit the rim as time expired. Hornets guard Terry Rozier threw the ball with zeros on the clock. Rozier was assessed a technical foul. Because the foul happened with no time on the clock, Paul shot his free-throw before the tipoff of the extra frame giving Oklahoma City a 95-94 lead.
The Thunder never trailed in overtime but did need two missed free throws from PJ Washington to seal the victory. What we are learning about this patch-work roster is they can win in a multitude of ways. The Thunder have gotten used to playing from behind. A habit that cost them against the Grizzlies on Thursday night. Friday, they found themselves in the unusual position of being up by 16 only to let the Hornets come back to take a 75-74 lead with 7:48 left in the game. That would balloon to 83-78 before Paul put the Thunder on top 84-83.
The last three minutes would be nip and tuck for both teams, as the reliable trio of Paul, Shai Gilgeou-Alexander and Dennis Schroder would all contribute down the stretch on defense, in the field, and from the charity stripe. Schroder was listed as questionable for Friday's contest with an ankle injury. Paul calls him a "trooper" for his toughness and praised Gilgeous-Alexander for his post defense.
The Hornets came into Friday's game 14th in three-point shooting percentage and fourth in three-pointers made. Charlotte missed their first 18 shots from beyond the arch finishing 7 of 39 from three. Oklahoma City wasn't any better going 5 or 31, but what was impressive was the fact that the Thunder held the Hornets to a season-low 18 points in the first quarter.
The bottom line is that the Thunder are now 16-15 on the season. They're winners of 7 of their last 10 and are in the 7th spot in the west as we head toward the first of the year.
Up next, it's the Word-Champion Raptors Sunday in Toronto. The ball goes up at 5 on Fox Sports Oklahoma.