Finally, the streak is over.
Losers of 14 straight games, the Oklahoma City Thunder got back in the win column against Boston, downing the Celtics 119-115 Tuesday night inside the TD Garden.
A loss would have set a new franchise record for consecutive losses, but youngsters Luguentz Dort, Darius Bazley, Aleksej Pokusevski and Ty Jerome stepped up to ensure the 2021 Thunder wouldn’t be going down in the record books.
Ahead of the matchup with Boston, Dort said after the game that he was very aware of the potential to make history on Tuesday night, and he was determined to ensure it didn’t happen.
“Actually I saw it today and I told (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander), I’m like ‘yo, we winning today.’ And that was my mindset just for the game,” Dort said. “And the fact that we all did it as a team was just great.”
Returning for the second night of the back-to-back, Dort did his usual work defensively while leading OKC in scoring with 24 points on 5-of-14 shooting from the field. The Canadian also addd four rebounds, two assists and a block as he helped set the pace for the Thunder.
“It was just amazing,” head coach Mark Daigneault said of Dort’s performance in his post game Zoom press conference. “When we really needed one, I’m starting to drift towards ‘how do we get this guy the ball.’ It’s just amazing when you look back on where (Dort) started at the beginning of the year that he’s at that point that you can do that against a good team on the road and he can deliver.”
Getting off to a quick start, the Thunder built a six-point lead at the half, but would continue their third quarter struggles. Giving the lead away, the two teams entered the fourth quarter tied, setting the table for some late game drama.
As Oklahoma City looked to snap their losing streak, up 10 points with 1:08 left in the game, a pair of poorly timed turnovers opened the door for a late charge by the Celtics.
Clutch free throws by Dort, Theo Maledon and Isaiah Roby iced the game for the young Thunder, giving the young OKC trio experience converting with the game on the line late.
Jerome said he was proud of his team’s efforts to finish off the game.
“Everyone was big for us down the stretch tonight. It was just really good to see,” he said. “I just want to keep improving everyday win or lose whatever the score is. I think I heard coach say there are a lot of good wins behind the scenes, and we just want to keep at it.”
The nail in Boston’s coffin was Oklahoma City’s sharpshooting from 3-point range. Hitting 13-of-39 attempts, the Thunder shot 43 percent from deep to the Celtic’s 22 percent.
Bazley helped OKC’s efforts from down town, sinking 2-of-3 attempts from beyond the arc en route to his 21-point performance. Pokusevski tacked on another two triples, adding 12 points to the winning efforts, and Jerome shot 6-of-10 from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range to finish with 15 points.
“I thought the competitive spirit was 48 minutes long,” Daigneault said. “We hung in there, there was a lot of ups and downs in the game like there always are and the guys did a great job.
“Down the stretch in the situation part of the game, they kept making shots and extending the game.”
Riding high off the win, Oklahoma City will now return back to the Chesapeake Energy Arena to close out a tough April. In their next outing, the Thunder will host the New Orleans Pelicans at 8 p.m. on Thursday evening.