Schroder must have been referring to only the final 7 ½ minutes of the fourth quarter. For much of Wednesday’s game at the Barclays Center, the Thunder’s defense was a late-reacting, scrambled mess that gave up 15 3-pointers.
To the Thunder’s credit, even when it trailed by as many as 23 points, it didn’t quit.
“They kind of corrected and did some things a lot better in the second half than we did in the first half,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said.
Westbrook, who finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds and 17 assists, was at the head of that reversal. In the fourth-quarter flurry, he hustled for offensive rebounds. He skied for defensive rebounds in the last minutes, never getting a stat but his effort enough to help George get the rebound that allowed Donovan to call timeout to set up the final shot.
“Once you see a guy make a few in a row, get fouled, gain some confidence, my job is to find him,” Westbrook said.”
Executing game-winning shots hasn’t been George’s strong suit in his nine-year career. According to ESPN Stats and Information, before Wednesday, George was 0-of-14 in his career on go-ahead field goals in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime.
George’s failures in those positions have drawn criticism and barbs across the Internet. Those were non-existent on Wednesday.
By the time George ignited in the fourth quarter, the Barclays Center crowd was in hysterics. It didn’t even care about the final score.