Denver and OKC lay down the craziest finish in the NBA this season
The third time’s the charm. At least it was for Gary Harris and Nuggets on Thursday night.
Faced with the same dilemma that sent them home with heartbreaking losses against San Antonio and Boston, Denver looked to break their bad luck with 1.4 seconds left in regulation. With just enough time to catch the ball and throw up a prayer from beyond the arc, the Nuggets looked to Harris to seal the game, and Harris responded back with a dagger from deep.
Harris drained the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer over the outstretched arms of a closing Russell Westbrook, and the Denver escaped with the much needed victory 127-124. The Nuggets’ star shooting guard was overshadowed by teammates Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, but his 23rd, 24th and 25th points were more important than any bucket bar none.
Jokic scored his third triple-double of the season and was clearly Denver’s best player with 29 points, 13 boards and 14 assists. No dime was more important than 14th and final assist on his clutch pinpoint inbounds pass to Harris for the game-winning trey.
Jamal Murray had it cooking for most of the matchup and he finished with 33 points to lead the Nuggets in scoring. His defense was below average, but he more than made it up with his 5 assists and 60.9 percent shooting from the field.
OKC couldn’t hold on to avoid dropping back to back games, but Paul George had little to nothing to do with their loss. PG13 scored a season-high 43 points to lead the Thunder and even nailed a clutch step back from three point land to tie the game at 124 apiece.
Westbrook couldn’t take the lid off the basket, but he found other ways to make an impact. Russ piled up an eye-popping 21 assists to add to his 20 points and nine rebounds. He came one assist short of his 17th triple this season, but coming up short of a win surely mattered more to the reigning MVP.
As if taking a loss wasn’t bad enough, one Denver fan took it upon himself to make Westbrook’s night even worse. Just as the emotional dust was beginning to settle from the debilitating buzzer beater defeat, a front row fan stepped on the court to meet Russ as he made his way to the locker-room.
The Brodie didn’t take to kindly to the face to face meeting and shoved the fan away before security could reach the two to intervene. Westbrook and the fan both left unscathed, but the frustrating encounter was something that never should have happened.
Players are discouraged from physical and verbal altercations with fans by fines for altercations, but Westbrook was excused for his actions by the NBA’s front office. As for the fan, he got what he deserved and he’s been banned from NBA games for life.