Part 1 of this Clutch-Time Recap made it abundantly clear OKC was not embracing the tank this season. Through hard-fought battles with the likes of the NBA’s elites, the Thunder showed they were capable of being competitive in any game with any opponent.
Part 2 followed the Thunder as they went on a blazing 11-3 streak in the clutch. The team managed to put together the most dominant closing line-up in the league, and also gave dramatic wake-up calls to several teams who thought games were over before they actually were.
Over the 14 games Part 3 covers, the Thunder marched to the shutdown of the 2019-2020 season with their heads held high — going 12-2 in games in which the score differential was five points or less in the final five minutes of the contest. Fueled by two separate 6-game clutch time win streaks, OKC was consistently dominant down the stretch when it mattered most.
Note: All videos will start in the clutch-time.
Jan 15 VS. RAPTORS | LOSS 121 – 130
Prior to the 6:12 mark of the fourth quarter, the Thunder trailed 118-97. The Team then went on a 22-4 run to bring the score to 122-119 with 2:39 remaining. Unfortunately, OKC was unable to finish off the comeback, ending the game with a loss.
JAN 20 @ ROCKETS | WIN 112 – 107
An eerily similar story to their loss to Toronto — the Thunder began a comeback against Houston with a little over six minutes remaining in the game. Unlike the finish against the Raptors, however, Oklahoma City came away with the win in this one. Sorry, Russ.
JAN 22 @ MAGIC | WIN 120 – 114
The Thunder held on for the victory against Orlando after squandering a 15-point lead. The team was propelled by Dennis Schroder’s 31 points. Oklahoma City can also attribute the victory to a season-high field-goal percentage for the team of 60.5%.
JAN 25 @ TIMBERWOLVES | WIN 113 – 104
Minnesota managed to sneak their way into clutch time with a Robert Covington 3-point make with just over a minute to go in the game, bringing the score to within 5. The Timberwolves never really had a chance as CP3 and Schroder closed the door late.
JAN 31 @ SUNS | WIN 111 – 107
The Thunder earned a win against the Suns in a back-and-forth contest. The game was ultimately decided by a signature Chris Paul clutch 2-point shot with 1:03 left to play, as well as OKC’s effort at the charity-stripe in the final minute of the game (10-10).
FEB 5 VS. CAVALIERS | WIN 109 – 103
Oklahoma City flexed its clutch time muscles in a game that came down to the wire with Cleveland. Schroder assumed the role of hero in this one, scoring six big points of his collective 30 on the night, helping the Thunder to close out the win.
FEB 7 VS. PISTONS | WIN 108 – 101
OKC’s lead got down to as little as four with 2:28 remaining in the game. At that point, as he often does, CP3 came alive. The Thunder’s floor general led the team to a victory in the final two minutes, scoring 8 points and going 6-6 from the free throw line.
FEB 9 VS. CELTICS | LOSS 111-112
The Thunder trailed by three with 14 seconds remaining in the game, and Schroder came up with a huge block on a Gordon Hayward layup attempt. Unfortunately for the Thunder, Marcus smart stripped Shai Gilgeous-Alexander while he was setting up the game-tying shot on the other end. The result was a loss for the Thunder.
FEB 13 @ PELICANS | WIN 123 – 118
The Thunder went back-and-forth with the Pelicans for the majority of the fourth quarter of this game. Ultimately, it was the veteran savvy of Danilo Gallinari that led the Thunder to the win, scoring 11 of his 29 points down the stretch in clutch time.
FEB 21 VS. NUGGETS | WIN 113 – 101
As clutch time approached OKC clung to just a 3-point lead over Denver. As they have been known to do all season, once the end of the game got near, the Thunder tightened up on defense and shot 62.5% from the field to close out the victory.
FEB 25 @ BULLS | WIN 124 – 122
From the 1:25 marker in the 3rd quarter, the point where Chicago fought all the way back from a 24-point deficit, neither team built a lead greater than three points until the last minute of the game. OKC held on to the win by a thread, coming out on top 124-122.
FEB 27 VS. KINGS | WIN 112 – 108
Oklahoma City found themselves down by 19 (78-59) with 7 minutes remaining in the third quarter in a home game against the Kings. In the blink of an eye, the quarter-horn sounded and the team was looking at a much smaller deficit of just 1-point (82-81). The Thunder would then go on to engage in a shoot-out with the Kings in the fourth, and come away with the win.
MAR 4 @ PISTONS | WIN 114 – 107
OKC led by as many as 14 in the 4th quarter against Detroit. However, by the 4:27 mark, the Thunder actually found themselves on the losing end of the scoreboard. Fortunately, clutch time is where the Thunder shine. The team went on to go 4-6 from the field and 3-3 from the free-throw line to take home the win.
MAR 8 @ Celtics | WIN 105 – 104
Quite possibly Oklahoma City’s best win of the season came in their final game before the Covid-19 shutdown. The Thunder found themselves in a slug-fest with the Celtics, as neither team was able to gain more than a 4-point lead once the game was knotted at 86 just seconds into the 4th quarter.
The Thunder had fought back from down by as many as 18 in the first half. They were determined to keep the game close for the entirety of the fourth as the game saw 12 lead changes and six ties in that period alone.
Of course, the game came down to the final few possessions in the clutch (where, as you have caught on by now, they thrive). With 48 seconds remaining OKC had a 1-point lead as Schroder lined up a triple. The shot was blocked by Jason Tatum, who in turn ran out on the fast-break and finished a right-hand layup to give Boston a 104-103 lead.
Chris Paul took the reins on the Thunder’s next possession, creating space for an open look. His floater in lane fell just short, but as luck would have it, Steven Adams tipped the rebound out of bounds.
Marcus Smart flipped the ball to Kemba Walker on the following inbounds play, who immediately began to dribble toward the Thunder baseline, opposite of his team’s goal. As Kemba dribbled Paul pinned him against the out-of-bounds line with nowhere to go. Just like it is written in every book on basketball fundamentals, Schroder sneaked in for the trap and poked the ball away as Walker attempted to change directions with a behind-the-back crossover.
After securing the ball on the steal, Schroder scored on the uncontested lay-in and the Thunder regained the lead at 105-104 with only 8.5 seconds remaining on the clock. The Thunder defense held strong for one last play and the Thunder walked out of TD Garden with a great win.