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Jenni Carlson: Thunder's last game is a reminder to be grateful for fun we had before coronavirus pandemic

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The other night, I was scrolling through the TV listings trying to find something to watch.

Isn't that what we're all doing these days?

Fox Sports Oklahoma was replaying the Thunder's game in Boston, and I figured I'd watch. It was an Oklahoma City win. Maybe the best one of the season, in fact. So, I settled in.

You likely remember the storyline of that game: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was out with a hip contusion, the first game he missed all season, and when the Thunder fell behind by 18 points in the second quarter, you figured maybe we wouldn't be seeing one of those big comebacks. After all, the Thunder was playing a (good) man down, the Celtics were at home, and the Celtics were really good, too.

But of course, there was a comeback. Dennis Schroder played great. Chris Paul did likewise. They teamed up on a backcourt steal late that gave the Thunder a one-point lead with only seconds remaining. Then Paul defended Boston star Jayson Tatum on the game's final possession, forced a tough shot that bounced off, then celebrated the Thunder win like we rarely saw Paul celebrate.

He pounded his chest.

He pointed.

He yelled.

After the 105-104 win, Paul told Thunder sideline reporter Nick Gallo that he hadn't gotten that excited in a long time. Paul also talked about how great a win it was, how much fun the team was having, how together everyone was.

I knew that game was in the final days before the coronavirus shut down the NBA, then all of sports in this country, but since the past few weeks feel like a few years, I couldn't remember if the Thunder played any more games after that game in Boston.

I went to check my calendar.

(Yes, I'm old -- I still keep a written calendar in a day planner.)

That game in Boston was Sunday, March 8. The Thunder then had two days off before a home game Wednesday, March 11 against the Jazz.

You know what happened there.

So, that game at Boston, that masterful win against the Celtics was the last time the Thunder played. Might be the last time it plays at all this season. I hope that isn't the case. I hope something of the NBA season can be salvaged before the year is out.

But if that win against the Celtics was the last time we get to see this iteration of the Thunder, it was an apropos swan song. One of those big comebacks. One of those gritty finishes. One of those fun games.

It makes me sad to think we might not see this Thunder bunch again. I have no idea what these guys would've done in the final weeks of the regular season or in the playoffs. But that game in Boston makes you think they still had some good basketball left in them. Some fun basketball.

We need fun right now.

Watching that replay of the game in Boston was fun, and even though it could leave me melancholy -- and I won't lie, there was some sadness about what's been lost -- what I feel most is happiness about what we did get to experience. This Thunder team was endearing. Entertaining, too. But most of all, it was fun.

I hope there's more, but if not, I'm forever grateful for the grand fun that this bunch provided us all. The saying goes, "Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened," and the Thunder has already given us plenty of reasons to smile.

Related Photos
Oklahoma City Thunder's Dennis Schroder (17) steals the ball from Boston Celtics' Kemba Walker (8) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March, 8, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Oklahoma City Thunder's Dennis Schroder (17) steals the ball from Boston Celtics' Kemba Walker (8) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March, 8, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-6912d68385a7b6134c4696b6cecdaca8.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder's Dennis Schroder (17) steals the ball from Boston Celtics' Kemba Walker (8) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March, 8, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder's Dennis Schroder (17) steals the ball from Boston Celtics' Kemba Walker (8) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March, 8, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder's Dennis Schroder (17) steals the ball from Boston Celtics' Kemba Walker (8) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March, 8, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)</figcaption></figure>
Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›

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