A year before they became teammates, Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo faced off in what was a thrilling, instant classic.
On Oct. 31, 2015 (IST), the Oklahoma City Thunder travelled to the Amway Center to take on the Orlando Magic in what was the second game of the season for both teams. While the Thunder boasted a star-studded lineup that featured Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, they found themselves trailing 93-75 heading into the fourth quarter.
Then the stars took over.
OKC gradually chipped away at the deficit in the final frame, trailing by just three points with under 20 seconds remaining. Then, as we've come to know him to do so often, Durant knocked down a triple to tie things up for the first time since the midway point of the fourth quarter. It would be the first of many big shots in a span of 15 seconds.
After an Orlando timeout, Oladipo responded with a huge step-back triple, creating space from Andre Roberson, who still managed to contest the jumper. With 3.9 seconds remaining, things were bleak for the Thunder, who had no timeouts remaining and trailed by three points.
Those details didn't matter to Westbrook, as he quickly took the inbounds pass. crossed half court and banked in a 37-footer with just 0.7 remaining in regulation to tie things up at 117.
It's a sequence you have to see to believe.
Westbrook (13) and Durant (12) combined for 25 points in the fourth, where OKC outscored Orlando 42-24 to force overtime.
It took two extra periods but the Thunder would ultimately come away with a 139-136 victory after trailing by as many as 18 points on the night. A closer look back at this game is a reminder that some of the stat lines were flat out ridiculous.
Westbrook led all scorers, finishing with 48 points to go along with 11 rebounds and eight assists in under 48 minutes of action. Durant, who played in 53 of a possible 58 minutes, finished with 43 points (on 15-for-30 shooting) and 12 rebounds. They were just two of four Thunder players to finish in double figures, D.J. Augustin (12) and Enes Kanter (10) being the others.
Oladipo was the hero late but largely struggled, shooting 8-for-27 from the field to finish with 21 points though he added 13 rebounds and 10 assists to record the second triple-double of his career. Tobias Harris was Orlando's scoring leader with 30 points in 46 minutes.
The very next season, Oladipo was traded to OKC, where he starred in the backcourt alongside Westbrook, who would be named league MVP thanks to his efforts to lead the Thunder to the postseason following Durant's departure via free agency.
They've both since moved on, but their duel in 2015 and their season as teammates serve as unforgettable memories.
Also on Oct. 31 (IST)…
- 1954: Hall of Famer Bob Pettit made his NBA debut
- 1962: Wilt Chamberlain posted a 59-point, 35-rebound double-double in a San Francisco Warriors win over the New York Knicks
- 1964: Two-time All-Star, "Jumpin" Joe Caldwell, grandfather of Marvin Bagley III, made his NBA debut
- 1981: Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas made his NBA debut
- 1982: Hall of Famer Maurice Cheeks dished out 21 assists in a Philadelphia 76ers win over the New Jersey Nets
- 2001: Joe Johnson and Tony Parker made their respective NBA debuts
- 2002: Yao Ming and Amar'e Stoudemire made their respective NBA debuts
- 2009: Hall of Famer Steve Nash dished out 20 assists in a Phoenix Suns win over the Golden State Warriors
- 2013: Both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Rudy Gobert made their respective NBA debuts
In 2019, the Houston Rockets faced the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena while the Houston Astros faced the Washington Nationals in the World Series.
There must be something about duels on this date, as James Harden (59 points) and Bradley Beal (46 points) went back-and-forth all throughout the game. It was an offensive showcase, as the Rockets took a158-158 victory in regulation; the 307 combined points make this the seventh-highest scoring game in NBA history.
It's also worth noting that Westbrook was present in this one, too, recording a triple-double with 17 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
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