Kendra AndrewsESPN4 Minute Read
SAN FRANCISCO — With only 1.6 seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter, the Oklahoma City Thunder found themselves trailing by three points against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night. The team was hoping for some luck to push the game into overtime.
Josh Giddey made the inbound pass to center Chet Holmgren, who was positioned near the 3-point line in the right corner with Andrew Wiggins guarding him closely. Holmgren turned, faced the basket, and took the shot.
While some may say it was a stroke of luck, Thunder coach Mark Daigneault confirmed that it was exactly how they had planned the play.
“Especially the part where the ball went in,” Daigneault quipped.
In a stunning display, Holmgren made a clutch 3-point shot at the buzzer, forcing the game into overtime and scoring a career-high 36 points on 14-of-22 shooting, with 10 rebounds and five assists. This remarkable performance made him the first rookie since Luka Doncic in 2019 to achieve a 35-10-5 game. The Thunder emerged victorious with a final score of 130-123.
Daigneault emphasized that this game wasn’t a sudden revelation for Holmgren, but rather a culmination of his hard work and progress throughout the season. He stressed the potential for growth within the young team and its players.
Star player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander expressed his disbelief at Holmgren’s game-changing shot, likening it to something out of a movie. However, Holmgren admitted that the game wasn’t flawless, with a messy stretch of plays leading up to his iconic shot.
Despite the imperfections, Holmgren credited his coach for maintaining confidence in him and allowing him to take the game-winning shot. The game also showcased Gilgeous-Alexander’s prowess, as he scored 10 of his 40 points in overtime, propelling the Thunder to their victory, marking the Warriors’ sixth consecutive loss.
In the midst of the game, Gilgeous-Alexander faced off against Chris Paul, ultimately making a crucial midrange jump shot and a challenging fadeaway over Wiggins, securing the win with a blocked shot against Stephen Curry.
However, Daigneault indicated that Holmgren is still in the process of learning and growing as a player, adapting to different game situations. The coaching staff had urged him to take advantage of mismatches, and Holmgren acknowledged the importance of being versatile on the court.
Despite a strong offensive showing from the Warriors, with standout performances from Curry, Thompson, and Wiggins, Holmgren’s game-winning shot became the defining moment of the night.
For Daigneault, Holmgren’s shot was not just about the shot itself, but also about the teamwork and execution that made it possible. He praised Giddey’s perfect inbound pass and Gilgeous-Alexander’s crucial screen that freed Holmgren for the shot.
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