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Russell Westbrook nails buzzer-beating, game-winning 3 to knock off Kings

The Oklahoma City Thunder made their return from the All-Star break interesting, as is their wont. The Western Conference’s No. 5 seed built a 23-point lead over the lowly Sacramento Kings after one quarter on Thursday, only to squander it all and trail by three in the final five minutes, thanks in part to the pummeling of Zach Randolph (29 points, 12 rebounds) and the perimeter play of Buddy Hield (19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists).

OKC had to make a closing push to get back on the right side of the ledger, with Russell Westbrook getting himself to the line for some big free throws and Steven Adams scoring on the inside to help the Thunder get back on top 107-105 entering the final 10 seconds. From there, Vince Carter — who’d experienced some wardrobe malfunctioning earlier in the contest — decided he wanted to try to end things in frankly ludicrious fashion:


Vince pulled up from about 40 feet out with seven seconds still left on the clock and launched a prayer. It went unanswered. But! Teammate Garrett Temple was right there to grab it off the deck, fade along the baseline and loft up a potential game-tying shot … that caught the front of the rim. But! Rookie Justin Jackson was right there, too, and he grabbed the carom off and laid it off the backboard to knot the game at 107 with just one second left.

Surely, we were headed for an extra five minutes of basketball.


BUT!

On the inbounds play, Westbrook lined up on the left block, then raced around a pair of pindown screens from Jerami Grant and Adams to slow down Temple, the man tasked with checking him. Carmelo Anthony passed the ball to the top of the key, where Westbrook caught it as he stepped behind the line, then quickly leapt and fired, getting the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible to ensure the shot attempt came before the final buzzer. It did. And he nailed it.

Westbrook drained a 3-pointer with no time left on the clock, erasing Jackson’s heroics and sealing a 110-107 win that allowed the Thunder to avoid the indignity having blown a 23-point lead to one of the worst teams in the NBA.





Westbrook bounced back from a cold-shooting snap to finish with 17 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assists in the win, marking his league-leading 18th triple-double of the season. Paul George added 26 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, while Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points for the Thunder, who improved to 33-26, two games back of the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves in the race for a top-four seed in the Western Conference playoff picture.

Next up for OKC: a Saturday night date with old pals Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors, whom the Thunder recently handled pretty convincingly, but against whom you’d suspect Oklahoma City would prefer turning in a performance good enough that they don’t need to rely on another bit of last-second magic from Russ.

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Dan Devine is a writer and editor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@oath.com or follow him on Twitter!