It could have been that the Raptors and Nets didn’t feel that the UK crowds were sold on basketball at the end of the regulation 48 minutes that both teams played on Saturday 5th March.
Maybe the two teams liked England to such a degree that they wanted to stay that little bit longer after the first OT period.
Perhaps the two teams had failed to read the script which stated that in order for fans to get home, the game would need to have a conclusion after a second extra period.
Whatever the reason for the Nets and Raps taking their final game in the O2 arena to triple overtime before the game was won by the Nets 137-136, there is no doubting that all those fortunate enough to be in attendance left that arena completely sold on basketball and the merits of an NBA team being in their country.
In a country better known for kicking a ball around on grass, the sold out O2 crowd gave the impression that there was room for more than just the one ball-related sport in their hearts. The Net who garners most attention for his efforts, will be Travis Outlaw who was the epitome of ‘clutch’ as he scored 8 of the Nets final 11 points, including two go-ahead free throws with only 12.6 seconds remaining to give the Nets the lead for good in a game where they saw the lead change hands 25 times.
There’s no doubt that his heroics will be remembered but so too will the efforts of the Nets Brook Lopez who went for 34 points, 14 rebounds and 8 blocked shots before fouling out. Deron Williams also kept up his outstanding performances for his new team by accumulating 21 points and 18 assists.
And that’s not forgetting Sasha Vujacic’s contribution – with 11.7 seconds remaining, an off balance 3 pointer that Vujacic nailed with only 2 seconds off the clock in the first OT period which tied the game up at 119.
According to the Slovenian, the play was designed that way:
“We needed a three to tie the game and to take it to overtime. Brook set a great pick and I was able to make the play. Coach drew up the play and I made it.”
Bargnani (35 points and 12 rebounds) made need to take note of how to make clutch shots, as twice in this game the ball was in his hands with time expiring and in both instances, he took a long jump shot and came up short.
The second of those jump shots, if made, would have given the Raptors victory at the end of the third OT but a combination of fatigue and Nets defence meant the Raptors finished the visit to London, 0-2 against the Nets.
If the NBA wanted to advertise itself to the world and show the sceptical fans in London just how good the game can be, then the triple overtime thriller was everything they could have hoped for. If the NBA doesn’t return to England any time within the next 3 years, the fans won’t be concerned. After all, they just watched one of the greatest games of all time in their country.
Follow Keith Firmin on Twitter @keiththejourno