Five Thoughts 4-25-18 (Game 5 Thunder 107, Jazz 99)

1. First of all, it’s 12:46am and I am on my second draft of the blog for tonight. Because this had the potential to be the last home game of the season I decided to live it up…lots of libations pre game. Then due to the outcome a pit stop post game as well. On the uber ride back to Edmond I almost had to tell the driver to pull over because I thought I was going to hurl. I’m 40 years old; that probably shouldn’t be happening— especially on a Wednesday night— and in the midst of this, I somehow deleted my original draft of this blog entry. Perhaps chalk it up to fat/drunk fingers. But tonight— who cares, I’ll write it again. I might want to relive this night many times over as a matter of fact. While the pursuit of rings should be the goal of any organization; as a fan I also very much value the entertainment a team provides me. That entails putting a competitive product on the court/field consistently and at least dangling the HOPE of great things. If it doesn’t ultimately all come to fruition I can live with it. As long as I’m getting to experience moments along the way. And that is what tonight did. It made this entire season worth it for me. This season was feeling a bit vacant. Decent enough fun, but lacking the thrills and moments of elation of previous seasons. But now we will always have THAT. And I was there. I will never forget it. I’ll never take it for granted. It was the damndest thing I’ve ever experienced as a sports fan and it was a truly great moment in Thunder history as well as my own personal sports fan history. So no matter what happens Friday or beyond I’ll always be able to say “I was there that night.” And that matters to me. A lot.

2. In all seriousness, WTF happened? I mean, what in the holy hell was that? Crowder hit a three with just under 9:00 to play to put Utah up 71-46. That was NOT the moment I thought the game was over. Oh no, I had already given up at halftime— or late in the second quarter even. I knew that the game and series was over long before Crowder hit that shot to put the Jazz up by 25. That shot was just sort of the realization that not only was our season ending, but we were going out by getting our asses kicked for the third straight game. That was pretty surprising to me. I thought we might lose, but I never would have guessed we would get humiliated under these circumstances. My buddy and I discussed leaving. We didn’t stay because we had hope; we stayed just because. Just because it was still kind of early. Figured we’d just go late in the third or early fourth. In the meantime I was just contemplating our season and where we might go from here. Kind of started planning the blog in an obituary fashion. And then, like seven minutes later the game was tied. What? It almost seems like a mathematical impossibility. How do you erase a 25 point lead in half a quarter? That’s just stupid. Makes zero sense. I’ve watched basketball my entire life. I’ve seen some crazy comebacks. But I’ve never seen a combination of point margin/time like that. Once we got it around 15 I started thinking if we got it to 12 by the end of the quarter we could at least dream. To erase the entire lead by the end of the quarter? Well, don’t be silly. Then, it happened.

3. It is sort of like Russ and PG waited 87 and a half games, looked at each, winked, and said “OK….now!” For what may have been the first time all season they were both awesome/unstoppable at the same time. Russ was obviously the catalyst. Over the final 20:00 minutes of the game the score was Russ 33, Jazz 28. That is nuts. He started it with two three’s. He mixed in drives, he drew fouls, he canned mid range jumpers, and he kept firing in three’s. He also grabbed 15 rebounds and had some key assists (including one to Abrines for three that really helped push us over). But unlike last year, a Russ virtuoso performance was not a solo act. PG was a cool customer down the stretch. He was extremely aggressive driving the ball and he kept attacking Gobert. He also hit a massive three to put us up 6 late in the fourth. To see them complimenting each other that way was gratifying.

4. It’s 1:15am now so I gotta wrap this thing up. I am not even sure how to fully process this right now or dissect what it may or may not mean. I don’t think Utah will just fold. I don’t think they will panic. However, this HAS to rattle them at least a little. And it has to energize the Thunder, at least a little. No doubt we benefited massively from Gobert being in foul trouble. We erupted precisely when he sat. But this game was all about Russ going nuclear. Doing what we know he can do. I think he’s probably stifled himself in the name of spreading the ball around. Tonight we saw him throw the entire city on his back. I’m out of words and my eyes are fluttering. I can’t comprehend what I just witnessed.

5. Wow!

Ed Kleese is a long-time Thunder season ticket holder and a smart Thunder fan. You can read all his work on his own personal blog.

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Ed Kleese