There are days in sports that set history. We may not realize what’s happening, or that we’re witnessing something unique, but time gives us perspective. Nobody realized that Jeremy Lin’s game winner in Toronto would be a microcosm for his clutch late-game heroics. Tom Brady’s game winning drive against the Rams in 2000 felt like just another Super Bowl in the third quarter. David Freese’s game-winning hits to rally the Cardinals in Game 6 couldn’t have possibly been anticipated earlier in the game, but history happens. Whether its statistical history or a game that’s competitiveness makes it special, instant classics are always popping-up unbeknownst to our unassuming eyes. Sunday, Jeremy Lin and the Knicks captivated audiences on their day-off, but the night game was what was truly special.
In a home game vs. an impressive Nuggets team, the Oklahoma City Thunder put on a show, and not your average show, mind you. Kevin Durant can get 30 points on one leg, what was historic was the entire team’s performance. Durant had 51 points and 8 rebounds and Russell Westbrook had 40 points and 9 assists. Also, I won’t forget to mention, perhaps in the most impressive performance of all, Serge Ibaka messed around and got a triple-double with 14 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocked shots. That is a big three performance, and if you had any of these three in fantasy, it was a beautiful day. The shocking part is the efficiency with which Westbrook and Durant shot. Durant shot 67 percent from the field and Westbrook shot 55 percent. I’ll ignore the critics who call them ball hogs and let my scorers take every shot of the game if they’re able to perform with that sort of consistency. Durant finally got 50, something he hadn’t done in his career. Both him and Westbrook proved that they could feed off each other, with such grace and energy that not only looked statistically tremendous, but won them the game.
The Thunder were down five with only around a minute to go, and Durant’s late, contested three pointer brought it to a two-point game. Then, after a missed Ty Lawson shot, the Durantula showed why he is truly so dangerous. The Nuggets tried to prevent Durant from shooting the ball from the outside with around ten seconds left, probably smart, but it’s simply impossible to stop him. He swiftly drove to the basket, and threw an emphatic two-handed dunk down like he was playing an 8th grade Long Island traveling basketball team, to put the game into OT.
In overtime, the Nuggets looked over-matched, but they’re an aggressive team that plays well together. They rallied and got the game close, then Aaron Afflalo blew by Durant. He looked like he wasn’t even trying, and that’s because he wasn’t. He let Afflalo go by with ease, and even said so in the post game interview. Coach Scott Brooks told him to let Afflalo pass, so that Serge Ibaka could block his shot. This quirky little story epitomizes the game. The best history is a game that glues you to the TV, I couldn’t stop watching the Thunder-Nuggets, and it wasn’t just because of Durant and Westbrook’s shocking numbers. They didn’t blow out anybody, and without Serge Ibaka, who knows if the Thunder win, and if they don’t, is it still history? All I know is that on a random Sunday, I was able to watch a 50-point performance, a 40-point performance, and a triple-double that included blocks all in one game, on the same team. Even more than that, it was an astonishing game.