The match Wednesday (Dec. 15) between the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans ended in what fans are accustomed to seeing in the most intense moments of the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament. But this time they were treated to an NBA shocker.
Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander drilled an amazing 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds left in the game to tie the match. Thunder fans high-fived each other in the stands and Thunder players congratulated him for apparently sending the game into overtime.
But that’s not what happened.
Pelicans guard Devonte' Graham took the inbound pass. What he did next shocked everyone in the arena–leaving some crushed and others elated.
Taking a pass from shooting guard Josh Hart, Graham launched a 61-foot shoot from just beyond the 3-point line on the other side of the court, banking the shot with less than a second on the clock. The Pelicans won 113-110.
"When I was at Kansas, I used to shoot half-court shots every game, every practice -- trick shots and stuff like that. For me it was just playing around. You never know, you might get into that situation one day, just like today. And it ends up paying out for you," Graham said, according to CBS Sports.
Graham's 61-footer is also the longest game-winning buzzer-beater in league history, Basketballnetwork.com says. The last long distance game winner of this type was shot in 1992 when point guard Chris Wayne Jackson (Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) launched a 55-footer, locking down a 123-120 win over the Denver Nuggets.
That shot beat a 1986 bucket by the Philadelphia 76ers legend Julius Erving, who shocked Dallas Mavericks fans by sinking a 53-foot shot to win, also 123-120. Dr. J finished that night with 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 8 assists
Graham’s unique shot came at the expense of OKC forward Kenrich Williams, who tried to lay some defensive pressure before the shot went off, but even he had to give Graham his props.
“I just didn’t want to foul, make a stupid play,” Williams said, according to the Associated Press. “Just tried to show my hands. I knew that he was going to try to shoot that shot. And it went in, man, so you’ve just got to tip your hat to him.”
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