Chris Paul took the ball into his own hands Monday night and delivered daggers. James Harden did not.
The Thunder and Rockets are going to a Game 7 because of it.
Paul scored 15 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of go-ahead free throws with 13.1 seconds left, to lift the Thunder past the Rockets in Game 6 of their first-round series and stave off elimination in the NBA’s postseason bubble.
“When it gets to clutch time, fourth quarter, some people [are] built for it,” Paul said in an on-court interview with TNT. “Some people shy away from it.”
The comment set social media into a flurry, with some speculation that Paul may have been talking about Harden, his former teammate.
The two All-Stars had an unceremonious ending in Houston last year after playing two seasons together. The relationship between the two was “unsalvageable,” Yahoo Sports reported last summer, as they went almost two months without speaking to each other during the season.
The Rockets made the divorce official last July, trading Paul, two first-round picks and two first-round pick swaps to the Thunder for Russell Westbrook. The teams went on to finish with identical 44-28 records this season, resulting in their first-round matchup.
Westbrook, who missed the first four games of the series with a quad injury, had a tough Game 6 on Monday, committing seven turnovers, including two costly ones in the final 90 seconds.
Harden, meanwhile, hit a 3 to take a 97-92 lead with 4:50 left in the game, but then only took three shots the rest of the way and missed all three as a turnover-free Paul finished off the comeback.
“I mean, a lot of the mistakes that we’ve made in close games have been on us, to be honest,” Westbrook said, per ESPN. “You watch the turnover on my part, some turnovers, a turnover I think two games ago with Eric [Gordon], so it’s kind of been on us, to be completely honest. That’s a fix that we’ve got to be able to do to close the game out.”