Thunder start OT with lead after bizarre technical, fend off Hornets late

Charlotte Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham sunk a layup with just seconds left to force overtime with the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Spectrum Center on Friday night.

The Thunder, though, actually started the extra period with a 95-94 lead.

Yes, really. 

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Hornets guard Terry Rozier was assessed a technical foul at the end of regulation after he threw the ball into the stands, celebrating after he thought the Hornets had won the game. So Thunder guard Chris Paul was given a free throw ahead of the jump ball to start overtime, giving Oklahoma City a slight advantage in the final five minutes.

It paid off in the end, too. 

The Hornets went to the line with just 1.9 seconds left in overtime down two points. Had they not picked up the technical foul, P.J. Washington would have had a chance to win the game at the line. 

Washington, though, missed both shots at the line, handing the Thunder the 104-102 win.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 27 points, shooting 10-of-17 from the field. Dennis Schroder added 24 points off the bench, and Paul finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.

Rozier led the Hornets with 26 points. Graham had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Washington finished with 14. 

While Thunder coach Billy Donovan has been with the organization for five seasons, and around the game for most of his life, he said he’s never started overtime with a lead like he did on Friday night.

“I’ve never had that happen before,” Donovan said. “I guess it’s better than having it at the end of regulation, right, because we all probably would have been going home after that. That’s never happened before.”

After Terry Rozier picked up a technical at the end of regulation, the Thunder picked up a slight lead before overtime even began. (AP/Bob Leverone)
After Terry Rozier picked up a technical at the end of regulation, the Thunder picked up a slight lead before overtime even began. (AP/Bob Leverone)

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