The Oklahoma City Thunder were able to steal a win over the Suns to wrap up the team’s five-game road trip and start a two-game winning streak after the team took down Portland on Monday.
The OKC Thunder Chris Paul’d Chris Paul winning the battle in the clutch, however, the game was won long before the clock hit triple zeroes. I know no sports fan loves Moral Victories, however, with this season’s team they are important. Because they are not the moral victories a team like the Raptors are having right now. The Thunder are having moral victories that are instilling professional habits in their young, impressionable core that is not even expected to be as good as they are.
The big moral victory in this one, and why this game would’ve been deemed a success even before the Boys in Blue won the contest came in the first half. This was the fifth and final road game on this trip, the Thunder’s second five game road trip of the month. This year, going on the road is even harder. You are away from your friends and family, isolated in a hotel with nothing to do, not even hanging out with teammates. So on getaway day, with the flight back to Oklahoma City set for mere hours after tip-off, it would’ve been understandable for the Thunder to play a sloppy game on Wednesday. Which they did, turning the ball over nine times in the first half.
Not only did they turn the ball over a ton, but Oklahoma City got down 17 points early in this game before ripping off a 20-4 run that allowed the Thunder to not only erase the Suns lead but take one of their own. That fire, competitiveness, and fight, is the greater victory, even beyond the basic record.
Despite them having every excuse to fold, give up, and pack it in, the Thunder kept attacking with their young core. They also got a tremendous fight from Al Horford, the grizzled vet who has been there done that has bought fully into this organization.
Any Thunder fan should be amazed at the professionalism Al Horford has shown. He rushed back to re-join the team as soon as he could in the midst of a pandemic after the birth of his child when no one would have batted an eye if he elected to stay home until the team returned to OKC. Instead, he is giving the Thunder all he has, and investing in the organization and its players despite knowing that this is just his temporary basketball home. Horford is still giving this endeavor everything he has.
Not only did he compete, but he had his best game of the season going 5-or-5 from beyond the arc on his way to 21 points in this one. Horford had the second-best shooting night in Thunder history behind, you guessed it, Caron Butler. In 2014, Butler went 6-for-6 from beyond the arc in a game.
The Bricktown Boys also got a huge game from future All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The 22-year-old poured in 21 points, 7 rebounds, and six assists, along with two blocks and as many steals on the defensive end. SGA made a big impact in this game nailing four clutch free throws at the end to put this one on ice, something he has struggled with to this point in the season.
Sure, Suns fans have the pretty important asterisk next to this one with the fact star guard Devin Booker did not play, but this was still a big win for the Thunder.
OKC is back in action Friday night when they take on the Brooklyn Nets and Thunder legends James Harden…and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot. Oh yeah, and someone named Kevin Durant.