A fairly standard match up between two division rivals took a bizarre turn at the end of the first half in the Blazers vs. Thunder game last night.
The Blazers inbounded the ball from their own baseline with 2.8 seconds left before halftime. Head coach Terry Stotts drew up a play in which reserve guard, Pat Connaughton, heaves the ball the length of the court to Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic. The Blazers like to use Connaughton as the inbounder because he spends his offseason pitching for the Baltimore Orioles and has a crazy powerful arm.
Once seven foot Nurkic secures the pass, either Damian or CJ can cut off him to get the ball and fire a quick shot. It’s a tough play to execute, but the Blazers have run variations of it in the past that have worked to squeeze in a few extra points before the end of a half or quarter. These are the types of plays that Stotts specializes in drawing up.
Well, this time it went spectacularly wrong. Take a look at one of the more improbable sequences in NBA history.
Holy cow, what a moon ball! That play broke a 57 point tie and gave the Thunder a 3 point lead heading into the break. The Blazers would go on to win 114 to 109.
Maybe my favorite part of the entire sequence is Connaughton’s reaction to watching the ball go in. Pat doesn’t get a ton of minutes and you hate to see him catch this unlucky of a break. His reaction is how I imagine the PwC employee who was in charge of the Oscar envelopes felt when La La Land was announced as the best-picture winner. It’s the face and posture that says, “You had one job, and you blew it.”
Poor Pat. He looks so discouraged.
So that’s the unbelievable note that both teams left for their locker rooms on. While they were there though, the insanity on the court continued.
A fan was chosen from the crowd to spin the Toyota Wheel of Cars. Whichever car the wheel lands on, the fan has a chance to hit a half court shot and win the car. Unfortunately for Toyota, a man by the name of Peter was selected, and he was all business from the get go.
Rocking the #1 Toyota Jersey. Waving his arms to get the crowd fired up. Utilizing the proper two-step shotput rather than the baseball-style heave that never works (looking at you, Pat). Yeah, we all knew Peter had this one in the bag from the second he stepped on the court.
If you’re keeping track at home, that’s two 50+ feet shots sunk within ten minutes of each other. Between these two miracles and a badly needed win for a Blazers team still (allegedly) chasing the 8 seed in the Western Conference, it was a pretty magical night at the Moda Center.