Oklahoma City became an NBA city, a real, man-this-is-something NBA city, four years ago on a Saturday night against the Lakers. On this Saturday night against the Lakers, Oklahoma City became an NBA force. Beating the Lakers is one thing. Making the Lakers give up the ghost is quite another, and that's just what the Thunder did Saturday night at the Ford Center. Phil Jackson pulled Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol after three quarters, and Scott Brooks did the same with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant as the Thunder rolled to a 110-89 victory to tie at two this seven-game Western Conference playoff series that was the talk of the NBA before Saturday night and will be all the rage now. Loud City? How about Rout City? This series is tied 2-2, and it's a lot closer to being 3-1 the Thunder's way than the Lakers'. The Thunder lost two close ones in Los Angeles and never came close to the woodshed the Lakers found themselves in Saturday night. The Thunder won without even Durant's A game. The Thunder won with Westbrook dominating the floor and the tempo. It won with Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison again foiling the step-stool superiority of Gasol and Andrew Bynum. It won with such muscle that many folks, and not just those in Bricktown taverns, are starting to believe the Thunder can produce an epic series upset. “This is as big a game as a game can be,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. Brooks said he sat on the bench thinking, “Wow, we're up on the Lakers by 29. You don't expect that. They are the defending champions with a lot of pride.” That pride was shattered Saturday night, though expect it to be repaired Tuesday night in LA. The Thunder still is climbing uphill; the Lakers still have homecourt advantage for a virtual three-game series. But the Thunder has young legs and soaring confidence. And maybe the karma from knowing the NBA is paying serious attention to a team whose future suddenly is now. “A lot of people didn’t expect us to be here,” Durant said. “Once we got here, I know people were saying we were going to be swept.” OK, OK. I picked a Laker sweep. So shoot me. Just do it after this series, because I don’t want to miss it. “We knew what we were capable of,” Durant said. “We’re playing every day hard and practice every day hard, and with those attributes, we can go far as a team.” In February 2006, the Lakers came to town for a memorable Saturday night showdown against the Hornets. Kobe scored 19 points in the first quarter, but Kirk Snyder made that poster dunk and Chris Paul made that dazzling spin-and-split move, and the Hornets won. We knew that night we never could let the NBA go. But this was even more spectacular. This Saturday night somehow trumped Game 3 of this series, when OKC's first home playoff game produced wild emotion on the court and off. Take apart the Lakers in a playoff game, make the Lakers start wondering if they're worthy to beat this little prairie eight seed not so far removed from a 23-win season, much less worthy to repeat as NBA champs, and it's a pronouncement. The Thunder made the Lakers say uncle for the second time in a month. On March 26, similar game. The Thunder stormed to a 53-34 halftime lead, extended it to 80-47 after three quarters and the final 12 minutes was a JV game, just like Saturday night. But that game was supposed to be one the Lakers didn’t care about it. Not so this time. My favorite stretch of the game Saturday night: 42 seconds in the third quarter. The Lakers' Ron Artest missed a 3-point shot. Westbrook grabbed the rebound, hurried the ball upcourt, then shot an errant 17-foot jumper. But Westbrook hustled to the corner to rebound his own miss, drove into the lane and fed Nenad Krstic for a 3-point play. Then Artest missed another 3-point shot, Westbrook rebounded, sped the ball to the other end and fed Durant for a fast-break dunk. Suddenly, the Thunder led 69-51. Moments later, Westbrook again rebounded his own jump-shot miss and fed Jeff Green for a reverse layup. The Lakers looked very old. “We knew this was going to be a long series and that it was going to be a dogfight,” said Kobe, a mantra he has been saying for several days, not just in defeat. “Now, more so than before, they have a ton of confidence and they know how to play against us. “We have to move onto the next game. It is not rocket science. We have a tough battle and we have adjustments to make. We are playing a team that is playing extremely well right now. It is not something where we have lost our swagger. We just have to go defend our home court. It’s as simple as that.” Simple to understand, perhaps difficult to achieve. Durant was not dominant Saturday night, yet the Thunder still cruised. Westbrook's dish to Durant for a dunk was no small matter. Durant hadn't made a field goal since the 6:28 mark of the first quarter. The dunk came at 6:52 in the third. That's a full two periods without a basket, but it got Durant going. He scored seven more points in the third quarter and the Thunder zoomed to an 86-64 lead, and this night was moving quickly to statement status. Truth is, most of us in Oklahoma have known for several months we've got something special on our hands. Known this team is headed for big things. But now America knows it. America and the Lakers.