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Nate Robinson splits the defense for a last-second 3-pointer vs. the Thunder.OKLAHOMA CITY -- Sometimes it's the little things that separate the good teams from the great ones.
The Celtics were already up 18 on the Thunder Sunday night when assistant coach Lawrence Frank sprang from his seat to remind coach Doc Rivers that, with Oklahoma City set for a final first-half possession after the second of two Jermaine O'Neal free throws, he should sub Marquis Daniels in for Paul Pierce (Boston's captain had two fouls and there was no sense risking a third in the defensive end).
Durant ultimately made a bad pass, zipping the ball out of bounds and turning it over at the other end of the floor with 2.3 seconds to play. To most, it would have been a chance to simply inbound the ball, hoist up a prayer, and get into the break with a monster lead.
But the Celtics instead quickly subbed back in Pierce and Nate Robinson, catching the Thunder with matchup problems. Robinson made it hurt when he split a pair of bigs -- Cole Aldrich and Nenad Krstic -- before banking in a circus shot 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 58-37 advantage.
Rivers breaks the play down: "We always do that if it’s the last shot, we try to throw all guards on the floor and try to get them in before the other team can't sub and get the bigs out. It's like snapping the ball [in football] before the [other team can institute a] replay [challenge], before they throw the red flag out. With two seconds left, it was nice to get the shot, because we had matchups. I think it was Krstic or whoever guarding Nate. It was still only two seconds, but we’ll take the luck though."
With Rondo blanketed by Westbrook, taking away the first option of having him sprint the length of the floor, Robinson slipped quietly into the backcourt, hauling in the long inbound feed from Garnett a few strides from the center stripe. He made two dribbles before hoisting the shot, his body turning to shield himself from a scrambling Krstic.
Robinson adds his perspective: "They denied Rondo [the ball], but they didn't have any other guards in. They had a big guy -- Krstic -- and the other guy -- Aldrich -- they came up and I just let it go. It felt good."
The shot itself didn't look particularly pretty out of his hand, but Robinson banked it home hard. After the shot, and with still boasting a full head of steam, he made a leaping motion as he neared the end of the Boston bench, then sprinted down the hallway to the locker room.
"I was still running at full speed; I couldn't stop," said Robinson. "I tried to jump on [rookie] Luke [Harangody]. It was funny."
Watch the entire play HERE.