Jaylen Hoard
(Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder)

Thunder Wins on Fourth-Quarter Rally

By Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter | okcthunder.com



The Thunder put an entertaining capper on its home season Tuesday night with a 19-point comeback victory against the Trail Blazers – tying its second largest comeback of the season. The come-from-behind win wasn’t the only entertaining element of the home finale. Between a half-court shot for $20,000, a 20-point, 20-rebound double-double from Jaylen Hoard and a furious fourth quarter where OKC outscored the Blazers 31-12, Thunder fans were given a proper farewell to the 2021-22 home season.


Through the Finish Line

After leading by two points in the first quarter, the Thunder trailed by as many as 19 points to Portland after posting two consecutive 19-point quarters in the second and third.

Playing with three 10-day signees in the starting lineup, the Thunder pulled off a massive rally in the fourth to secure the victory. OKC’s defense held the Blazers to just 5-of-19 from the field and a 2-of-10 clip from deep in the final frame. The defensive stops opened the runway for the Thunder, who had found their offensive rhythm, to begin chopping away at the deficit.

OKC shot at a 55 percent clip from the field and 45 percent from the 3-point line to fuel its 26-4 run.

With four minutes left in the game, Thunder 10-day signee Zavier Simpson banked in a reverse layup under the rim to give OKC its first lead of the game since the fourth quarter. Jaylen Hoard, another 10-day player for the Thunder, pulled down 11 rebounds while posting nine points in the fourth quarter alone to help the monstrous 12 minute effort.

“Obviously played a lot of minutes and grinded that one out,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault. “I thought the best defense we played all night came in the last part of the game which is really impressive and a testament to those guys and how hard they played and competed. Then obviously, we got some shots falling, got some momentum and ran through the finish line of the game.”

Quite the Call Up

Before the game, the Thunder announced the signing of OKC Blue Zavier Simpson and Georgios Kalaitzakis to 10-day contracts. The two players both spent time with the OKC Blue this season and in their first day of their call-ups, were placed into the starting lineup.

“It's an opportunity for us to give opportunities to guys that invest in our program,” said Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault before the game. “We're excited that we can bring those guys into the fray and let them be a part of this.”

The duo was responsible for the first four points that OKC put on the board. By the end of the night, Kalaitzakis posted a career-high 17 points on 6-of-13 from the field in 42 minutes while Simpson posted 10 points, two steals, five assists and three rebounds in his 43 minutes of action.

“I'm still sinking it in,” said Simpson who played 47 games with the Blue this season. “Being able to go out there and also have a chance to play that amount of minutes, be able to get to get up and down with some teammates is also tremendous. I'm grateful and thankful. It's been a long 24 hours, but this is what I’ve worked for. So, at the same time I'm gonna continue to stay on it.”

“Those guys did a great job of just coming in and competing,” said Daigneault. “It's a tough situation getting signed today, playing tonight, starting, playing the minutes that they played and I thought they really competed.”

Hoard’s on the Boards

Thunder 10-day signee Jaylen Hoard recorded a career-high 24 points on an efficient 11-of-17 from the field. The third year forward also pulled down 21 rebounds to log his second double-double in three games and his second 20-rebound game in the same stretch.

Hoard is now just the seventh player in OKC history to post a 20-20 game and the fifth to record multiple 20-rebound performances. 

“Just wanted to go out here and get a win,” said Hoard in his walk off interview with Bally Sports Oklahoma. “Me personally, I’m on a 10-day so I’m trying to play as hard as possible, show what I can do and just provide for my team.”

“He's just as consistent as they come professionally for a young guy,” said Daigneault. “When you do that, you position yourself to play well and you position yourself to improve and he's certainly improved over the course of his time professionally, and he's also playing well as a result of that.”

OKC’s Block Party

The Thunder finished the night with a season-high 12 blocks and Thunder forward Isaiah Roby was responsible for half of them. Roby’s blocks didn’t just take place at the rim, he was also a deterring presence behind the arc.

As part of OKC’s feverish fourth-quarter run, Roby urgently closed out to Portland’s Ben McLemore and completely erased his 3-point look from the corner. That play gave Roby his sixth swat of the game which marked the most by a Thunder player this season.

“It was just a product of being able to guard different positions tonight,” said Roby. “I started out in the center, and then ended up playing on guards and forwards so just being able to use my defensive versatility out there, that was the key to that.”

“It's hard to block jump shots. It's not something you see every night,” said Daigneault. “In order to do that, you've got to have really good instincts, timing, quickness off the floor, and then size and athleticism. Isaiah has got all that.”

Going Out with a Bang

The Thunder has had three fans sink half-court shots this season for $20,000. One of those winners came during the Thunder’s home opener against the 76ers back in October. The third winner came in the last home game of the season as Carson Whistler confidently stepped into his half court attempt and banked it in. The shot sent the Paycom Center crowd into a roar and helped to close out the home season with a bang.

“It’s so surreal, I’m still in shock,” said Whistler, a 21-year-old from Norman. “I’ve made some half court shots back in my high school gym, but this was really different.”



The Thunder closes out its 2021-22 season on the road. The team will take on the Utah Jazz Wednesday night before playing its final two contests in Los Angeles to take on the Lakers and the Clippers.