Chet Holmgren’s clutch shot keys career night, propels Thunder past Warriors

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SAN FRANCISCO — Down by three with 1.6 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Oklahoma City Thunder were looking for some luck to extend the game by five minutes Saturday night against the Golden State Warriors.

Josh Gide Ball inbounds at centre Chet Holmgrenwho stood near the right corner of the 3-point line Andrew Wiggins Pushed directly against him. Holmgren turned to the basket and shot toward the hoop.

Maybe Holmgren was lucky, but Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said that’s exactly how they drew the play.

“Especially the ball part going in,” joked Diegnot.

In his 13th game, Holmgren hit a clutch 3 in the market to force overtime and finished with a career-best 36 points on 14-of-22 shooting, 10 rebounds and five assists, becoming the first rookie to go 35-10. 5 games since then Luka Doncic In 2019. The Thunder won 130-123.

Digneault said it wasn’t an “epiphany” game for Holmgren — a night that revealed the player he was or could be after being the number. 2 pick in the 2022 draft. He said that was an accumulation of what Holmgren had been working on for the first part of the season, something that was building.

“We have a young team that will grow over time,” Daigneault said. “We don’t want to cap the potential of any of our players.”

Thunder Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander He said he was “in disbelief” when the shot of Holmgren came in, saying it “felt like a movie.”

But Holmgren later noted that it wasn’t a perfect night. He had a particularly sloppy stretch leading up to his big shot — a missed corner 3, a turnover, a missed layup in a timeout.

“Credit to coach for still believing in me,” Holmgren said of his clutch 3. “There were a few different options to play, depending on what opened up.” I was like at the end of it, and then the point, it’s just ‘go make a play.’ …that was a good shot. It felt good coming out of my hand and it went in.”

It was all Gilgeous-Alexander in overtime, where he scored 10 of his 40 points, as the Thunder dropped their sixth straight loss to the Warriors. Oklahoma City beat Golden State 128-109 on Thursday.

With the score tied midway through overtime, Gilgeous-Alexander went head-to-head. Chris Paul, eventually getting over the 19-year-old guard and knocking down a midrange jump shot. Two minutes later, he hit another hard fade on Wiggins.

The seal of victory came five seconds later, when Gilgeous-Alexander made a block Stephen Curry Try and then finish a layup on the other end.

“It wasn’t going my way the whole game,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “My teammates were really good and aggressive early and got the other team’s attention. Then late I was able to make plays in space.”

Holmgren got a lot more touches in the paint Saturday night than he normally does, something Daigneault said was part of the process for the 7-foot-1 center to learn the layers.

On Saturday morning, Daigneault and his coaching staff talked to Holmgren about getting him the ball when a smaller defender got to him — something that was guaranteed to happen against a much smaller Golden State team. Either let Holmgren play one-on-one or activate the help and move off the post.

“The advantage won’t be in my hands if I try to be nice the whole game,” Holmgren said. “I don’t take too much pride in getting in there and getting dirty, whether it’s touching the paint or fighting on the glass. … It’s not always going to come down, dribble five times and pull it up.”

For the Warriors, it was their most complete offensive game in weeks. Curry scored 25 points in his first game after missing the previous two with a left knee injury. Clay Thompson Had an efficient first showing, before fading towards the end.

Perhaps most importantly for the Warriors, the version of Wiggins they’ve been patiently waiting for has finally arrived. He finished with a season-high 31 points on 12-of-19 shooting, including five 3-pointers. Three of them came in the clutch, the third with just 1.6 seconds left in regulation and could have been the dagger that gave the Warriors the win.

But then Holmgren hit his rebuttal.

“When you’re on a losing streak like this, there’s an urgent need for certainty,” Curry said. “Anytime you’re in that number in a row, that’s a problem you have to fix. You don’t want to develop a losing mentality.”

In Daignol’s eyes, Holmgren’s shot was more than just a shot. It was also about how Giddy, who was on the bench before the game, checked in and immediately executed the perfect inbounds pass. And that’s how Gilgeous-Alexander set the curtain on Holmgren’s release.

“[They’ve] Got the humility and perspective to go out there and make the play and try to get his teammate a shot, which they did,” Digneault said. “I can’t tell you what a luxury it is, to have a guy that has the humility and perspective that you’re a rookie. can draw a play and he goes out there and executes it.”

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