On Wednesday night, the Thunder came close to repeating Monday night’s feat, putting a 24-point deficit behind them to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 126-122.
Not only did this evening’s result tie for the third-largest come-from-behind victory in franchise history, but it made history in yet another, more impressive way — for the first time in nearly a decade, an NBA team won back-to-back games after being down by at least 20 points.
Incredible, to say the least.
The first half was largely uneventful for Thunder fans. The Grizzlies, having won four of their last five games, came out swinging, establishing a strong presence in the paint right from the get-go through Jonas Valančiūnas. Furthermore, in spite of shooting over 50 percent from the floor and from behind the three-point line, the Thunder managed to close out the half trailing by only nine.
The third quarter, however, was when things took a sharp turn for the worse for the Thunder. Fresh out of the locker room, the Grizzlies went on a quick seven to nothing run, led by Dillon Brooks and his 15 points off the bench. Combine that with the Thunder’s inability to tally a single point until the 8:50 mark, and it’s no wonder the Grizzlies’ lead ballooned to 24 points.
Momentum would soon shift in the Thunder’s favor, though. It started with Danillo Gallinari hitting one of his three three-point attempts with just over five minutes left in the third. The Thunder then continued their run with Dennis Schröder making back-to-back two-point buckets with 3:15 left in the third.
Still down by 12 points at the time, Abdel Nader hit a clutch three with 2.4 seconds left on the clock to bring the Thunder within nine. And while the game was already well within reach, Schröder then stole the Grizzlies’ inbound pass in the closing seconds of the third and dished the ball to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who nailed a buzzer-beating floater off the glass.
That’s right — the Thunder scored seven points in 35.7 seconds to close out the third quarter.
Down by only seven points and with momentum clearly in their favor, the Thunder took complete control in the fourth with aggressive perimeter defense and sound ball protection, turning the ball over just nine times in the contest.
To close out the game, Chris Paul hit a key jumper with just under one minute left in regulation, putting the Thunder on top 122-120. Just as it looked as though the Thunder would skate by with another tight victory, Schröder turned the ball over with a 22.2 seconds left.
Out of their final timeout, the Grizzlies’ rookie sensation Ja Morant drove to the basket, but was met by Steven Adams at the rim, forcing both him and teammate Brandon Clarke into two tough, close-range shots. A pair of trips to the free throw line later, and the Thunder had officially come out on top.
Schröder led all scorers with 31 points and seven assists on the night. Both Gallinari and Gilgeous-Alexander wrapped up the evening with 20 points. And Chris Paul turned in a strong performance with 18 points, five assists and four rebounds.
On Friday, the Thunder will take on the Phoenix Suns at 7:00 pm CST. With a record of 11-16, the Suns currently sit 10th in the Western Conference. Led by Devin Booker, the game promises to be a tight one.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!