The marquee NBA matchup Friday night featured two teams — Atlanta, Golden State — battling for the league’s best record. The encore to that showdown — a game between two teams battling for the eighth seed in the Western Conference — somehow managed to be even better. The New Orleans Pelicans were in Oklahoma City to play the second half of a home-and-home against the Thunder, with the Pels looking to return the favor of a loss on Wednesday night. Kevin Durant returned to the Thunder lineup, so it figured to be a more monumental task than their previous meeting.
Instead, Durant looked rusty in his first game back after recovering from a sprained toe, so it was up to Russell Westbrook to carry the team. Westbrook nearly notched a triple-double — 48 points, 9 rebounds, 11 assists — including three clutch free throws after a colossally dumb foul by Quincy Pondexter with two seconds remaining. Westbrook sank all three, tying the game, and leaving the Pels with one chance to win in regulation.
The ball went to Anthony Davis, who launched a double-clutch, off-balance three-pointer just beyond the outstretched arm of Durant. Davis’ first made three of the season capped off a 41-point, 10-rebound night that somehow managed to overshadow Westbrook’s ridiculous performance.
— NBA (@NBA) February 7, 2015