How do you drown out a Thunder loss on a back-to-back? Talk about Thunder wins exclusively after 4+ days of rest.
After diligent research it turns out that there are 13 examples of such victories in OKC franchise history. As you might expect, almost all examples are either the first game following the All-Star break, or the first game in a playoff series. The first game of the season doesn’t count, you sly weasel.
Ranking was meticulously conducted over several minutes upon several factors: the relative importance of said victory, the strength of the opposing team, and sentimental value associated with the performance.
10. Lakers at Thunder: February 24, 2017
Here we see the raging behemoth of a 2K god mode player, specifically 2016-2017 MVP Westbrook.
But tonight was one of those rare occasions in which Westbrook didn’t lead his team in scoring – that title belongs to none other than Andre Roberson, who scored a career high 19 points. Despite Westbrook’s poor shooting, he notched his 28th triple double by racking up 17 points, a paltry 18 rebounds, and a ghastly 17 assists.
On the other side was well-known Lakers bust DeAngelo Russell scoring 29 points, getting tremendous help from the likes of Tarik Black and known cocaine-lover Nick Young. Safe to say this didn’t end well for the team named after lakes in a city with zero lakes.
9. Clippers at Thunder: Feb 23, 2011
Shoutout Damon Fontenot. The early 2010’s clothing style really was a wild place. Not to mention the extreme advancement in media development since this point. Powerpoint-style transitions between interviews will never not make me laugh.
A little blast from the past with a youthful KD, Jeff Green, and Blake Griffin. It really brings back some nostalgia.
This 4+ day rest also came All-Star weekend, at which we saw Griffin’s iconic dunk jumping over a Kia. [An aside: he jumped over a car sideways. It’s definitely something most people can’t do, but would I say it’s one of the best dunks? Probably not. I didn’t want to put that in the article because OU people would get mad at me, so I put it in my aside. Okay carry on.]
Griffin, just drafted by the Clippers, returned to Oklahoma for the first time since his tenure at OU, and boy did he give us a show – 28 points to go with 11 rebounds and 8 assists.
But he had very little help on the night. In fact, he was sans help. No CP3 means no lob city. No lob city means no wins. This game was never really close as OKC throttled them 111 – 88.
8. Mavericks at Thunder: February 16, 2010
Again, crazy how far media production as come. These days you would never see a postgame analysis where they just overlay still shots of players instead putting in the highlight videos. Also I forgot Berry Tramel did these sideline reports. What a weird site to see.
Blast from the past, part 2. Baby Westbrook and KD were just coming on the scene. The Mavericks being the powerhouse they were – Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, JJ Barea, Shawn Marion – would go on to win the title next year. Which means this particular win was a resounding message to the rest of the league of “Hey, maybe pay attention to us. Or don’t. We’re about to obliterate you either way”.
Despite the Mavericks rolling in the 1st quarter, OKC came soaring back scoring 40 points in the 2nd while holding Dallas to just 11 points in the 3rd quarter. Despite a poor shooting performance, Durant dropped 25 points alongside Harden and Westbrook’s 17 points apiece, which is even more impressive when you realize KD and Westbrook were only 22 and Harden was 21.
7. Lakers at Thunder: May 14, 2012
The funniest part of this video is watching Perkins run. It’s like when you’re crossing a walkway and a car is trying to get by, so you act like you’re running to let them through but going the exact same speed as before.
Everyone remembers this Thunder team’s explosive offense, but I think what gets lost is their crazy good defense. Harden is deflecting passes left and right, Ibaka is doing Ibaka things, and Westbrook is creating countless fast break opportunities. This was the first game of what would ultimately become OKC’s best playoff run to date, going up against an aging but still very talented Kobe Bryant and the LA Lakers to start.
The now infamous “what could have been” three-man group of KD, Westbrook, and Harden combined for 69 points (nice), while Derek Fisher and Nazr Mohammed (yes, THE Nazr Mohammed) provided value bench minutes. OKC won the game handedly, 119 – 90, and would go on to win the series, 4-1.
[An aside: Here’s a fun fact. Nazr Mohammed never took a 3PT shot in his entire 16-year career. Not even a halfcourt shot at the buzzer. He wanted nothing to do with it, and I respect the hell out of that
6. Thunder at Kings: February 23rd, 2018
How old was this Kings team? You have Vince Carter, a very old Zach Randolph, Buddy Hield who’s like 10 years older than we thought, and then basically 5 other washed up players. Just absurd.
Few things are better than a Brian Davis buzzer beater call on the mic. “RUSSELL WESTBROOK DRIVES A DAGGER INTO SACRAMENTO’S HEART” is an all-time quote. And this buzzer beater always makes the highlights of Westbrook moments.
The only reason this is lower in the rankings is that it’s the Kings. And we blew a 23-point lead. We probably should not be in a position where that shot was necessary, but it happened nonetheless.
“Got to find a way to get space with one second left,” said Westbrook to a group of reporters who apparently needed to know that information. OKC won 110-107.
5. Thunder at Nuggets: February 21, 2020
In case you forgot, we beat the Nuggets a week ago.
Another post all-star break example, but one where we featured two Thunder players. Chris Paul had to dunk in the All-Star game, can you imagine what his knees were going through after that? Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly “long rest” like some of these other examples.
As we’ve said before about this game, having a nationally televised game to feature CP3 and this scrappy squad really helped others see what we can do. Although it didn’t help that the very next nationally televised game was the worst loss in franchise history, but whatever.
4: Thunder at Warriors: May 15, 2016
[An aside: I forgot this game ended with Westbrook getting away with a travel. I don’t want the Westbrook stans to come after me for this one so I’m putting it in the aside. Carry on.]
OKC fans have talked about this series non-stop since it happened, but man was this game 1 crazy. Both teams had plenty of time to rest, and it was blow after blow til the end.
Say what you want about KD, but this man is a cold-blooded killer in the playoffs. The jump shot with 31 seconds to essentially ice the game was awesome to watch.
Nothing gets the blood pumping like watching your team beat the mighty 2016 Warriors, even if just for a game. Thunder got this one 108-102. How the rest of the series went down is for another article.
3. Thunder at Jazz: January 23rd, 2017
We now return to our regular program of MVP Westbrook smacking the living Christ out of everyone in his path.
You know who was jazzed up at this game? Not the Jazz. Westbrook, who was not chosen to be an All-Star starter after Steph Curry and James Harden beat him out. Mind you, this is MVP Russell Westbrook.
Then we have Rudy Gobert giving Westbrook the finger wag after Westbrook nearly posterized Gobert while not even coming close to touching the ball on the way up. Combine that with a tough shooting performance by Westbrook up until the 4th quarter.
There was no chance in hell he was gonna let this one get away. So when push came to shove, with the clock about to hit zero, Westbrook was gonna make it. No two ways about it.
After Hayward’s three to tie it with 10 seconds left, Westbrook casually comes back the other way to hit a midrange with only 1.7 on the clock. Thunder legend Alec Burks can’t answer back, and the game is over 97-95.
2. Jazz at Thunder: February 23rd, 2019
Shoutout Abdel Nader in this one. He’s not gonna get any of the credit for this win but he was huge in extra minutes. A clutch three with seconds left in OT and then a steal that led to another three in 2OT. Big time plays.
This was a classic. Paul George, still very much an MVP candidate, was proving the haters wrong that said he couldn’t make game winners. He just had one a few weeks before against Philadelphia, and he did it again tonight.
In what might be the highest arcing tear drop I’ve ever seen, PG just gets it above Gobert, landing in the basket with less than a second left in 2OT to give OKC a one point lead. Crowd goes wild.
This would be one of the last games in which PG had two healthy shoulders. Rest in peace.
1. Heat at Thunder: June 12th, 2012
The energy in Oklahoma City before this game was like nothing we have seen before. Every restaurant, store, and building in the OKC area had Thunder decor. The arena was even more electric than ever.
The Thunder faced a Miami team with a drive for revenge after the 2011 Finals loss. Lebron had just finished almost single-handedly dominating the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. They were playoff ready and experienced, facing a young explosive OKC squad.
Looking back, this was two of the greatest wings of all-time facing off. Lebron started this game with so much power to the rim that it felt unstoppable, but then the OKC defense rose up again and KD took over to come back from a 13-point deficit to win 105-94.
We all know what happened the rest of the series. OKC just didn’t have the experience that Miami did, and were going up against arguably the best player of all-time in his prime. Despite all of this, it was the first NBA Finals win in franchise history. No one expected they would accomplish this so soon after moving from Seattle. The future looked bright, and will always be one of the greatest “what if’s” in NBA history.
Thanks for reading this doozy of an article. Feel free to voice your opinion if you have a different one. Or if it’s the same. Either way I’m interested to know which of these games you enjoyed the most on its own (not taking the series or season into account).
Thunder will be back in action Tuesday. So until then, Thunder UP!
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