Once the NBA regular season is in full swing, it’s hard to expect much from a Wednesday night competition in November between two teams at the bottom of the Western Conference.
However, Pelicans and Thunder had other ideas. The two rebuilding franchises dueled at Oklahoma City in a game with 15 lead changes and 14 draws, providing one of the craziest finishes in league regular season history.
The 113-110 final score far from tells the full story.
Devonte ‘Graham Clutch
With no timeouts, only 1.4 seconds left on the game clock and scores tied at 110-110, this game was ready to go into extra time. This is how it usually flows given the circumstances mentioned above, but Devonte ‘Graham made this game stand out by putting his name down in history.
Nailing a prayer from near the 3-point line on the opposite side of the court, the 6-foot-1 guard not only sealed the win but also nailed one of the players. the longest buzzer beaters in NBA history.
According to statistics and information from ESPN, the 61-foot throw is the longest buzzer-whisk in the last 25 years. This was Graham’s fifth triple of the game, scoring all of his 15 points from beyond the arc while dishing out eight assists.
“Yes, I called the bank about that.” Graham said after the game. “You know today is the 15th. They paid us today. We took it to the bank.”
This opportunity comes nearly three weeks after Graham had landed a decisive blow in Salt Lake City to lead the Pelicans to a surprising victory over the Utah Jazz.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander sets it up
The epic ending would not have come if it weren’t for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s hand shot from beyond the arc. After a timeout with 4.5 seconds left and 110-107 down, the Canadian guard’s prayer shot from near the middle of the court tied things.
The two consecutive cross shots put this game next to the closest contests in recent NBA history.
Devonte ‘Graham made a 61-foot shot at the bell to win the game. That’s the longest buzzer in the last 25 years.
This is the first game in the past 25 seasons to feature multiple tying or lead shots from more than 30 feet within 5 seconds of a game.
– ESPN statistics and information (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 16, 2021
Gilgeous-Alexander finished the game with a team-high 33 points, but couldn’t prevent the team from falling for its third straight loss, 13 of its last 16 games. Furthermore, the loss places the Thunder in an unenviable position at the end of the Western Conference.
No game over without Brandon Ingram
Even before SGA and Graham spiced things up, it was sixth-year winger Brandon Ingram that sparked the Pelicans’ return. The Thunder held their biggest lead of 12 midway through the second quarter, but Ingram made sure the game didn’t end in an easy win for the hosts.
During the last three minutes of the game, Ingram edged the Thunder 10-8 and scored all of the Pelicans’ points in that span, except for the game winner Graham.
He finished with a game-high 34 points on 11 of 21 shooting from the field and was invaluable in helping the team continue their change.
This victory was the Pelicans’ sixth victory in their last 11 games, having started the season 3-16 for the first 19 games.