It really is one of the most intense, ferocious moments in nature when a lion is backed into a corner, fighting for survival. The nature of the beast comes out in do or die situations, and in order to survive, that beast will fight tooth and nail in order to see another day. Only the strong survive in times of desperation and turmoil.
The Oklahoma City Thunder certainly had their backs against the wall after losing two straight games to the Houston Rockets, squandering a commanding 3-0 series lead. The Thunder were without their All-Star point guard, Russell Westbrook. They looked lost, stagnant on offense and completely uncomfortable on defense. Meanwhile, the Rockets were gaining momentum and building confidence in their chances to defeat the top seed in the west.
It looked like the perfect formula for the first ever 0-3 series comeback, which has never been done in the history of the NBA. But like lions backed into a corner, fighting for survival, the Thunder overcame and moved on to the next round after a 103-94 victory over the Rockets in game 6.
Thunder All-Star, Kevin Durant, led the team with 27 points off 11-23 shooting. He also had eight rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block. Even though Durant was undoubtedly the top player for the Thunder in game 6, the contribution from his teammates was ultimately what led to the pivotal victory.
In games 4 and 5, Thunder players outside of Durant were struggling to contribute consistently. Durant was carrying the load offensively, and it proved not to be a recipe for success for the Thunder. More players needed to be involved, which is exactly what happened Friday night in Houston.
After going 1-10 from the field with just three points in game 5, Thunder guard, Kevin Martin, bounced back with a tremendous performance in game 6. He had 25 points off 7-13 shooting from the field, along with three rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Martin was much more aggressive Friday night after his dismal performance in game 5. He knew going into game 6 that he would have to do more for his team in order to win. The Thunder was a plus-25 while Martin was on the court.
38-year-old Derek Fisher also had a break out game Friday night. He had 11 points off 4-6 shooting. The thing that was so good about Fisher in game 6 was that his shots were so, so timely. He has been very useful for the Thunder in the absence of Westbrook. The Thunder was a plus-32 with Fisher on the court. Yes, you read that correctly, plus thirty-two.
Overall, the Thunder looked a lot more energetic in their series clinching victory over the Rockets. They very well could be finding a rhythm with the absence of Westbrook. The offense was flowing, the defense was tight and the attitude was fierce.
The Thunder will now have an even tougher test in their second round matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies. They will look to carry some much-needed momentum moving forward, and will hopefully build off of the success they found in their Friday night victory.
The next game will be Sunday at 1 ET in Oklahoma City against the Grizzlies.