With 3½ minutes remaining in the third quarter of Game 3 on Saturday night, Oklahoma City starting forward Serge Ibaka re-injured his sprained left ankle and was taken to the locker room. He remained there only a few minutes, returned to the bench and immediately re-entered the game.
Ibaka sprained the same ankle during Game 2 on Tuesday and was held out of Thursday's practice as a precaution.
"It was very important for my team to win that game," Ibaka said. "So I tried to play sore. I know I won't die. It's just sore. It won't kill me. That's it."
Ibaka said the ankle likely will continue to be sore but he will play through it.
"It's the playoffs, man," Ibaka said. "This is not the regular season (where) you're hurt a little bit and you can take off. No, no, no. This is the playoffs. You need to leave everything on the court."
Ibaka had 14 points with eight rebounds and six blocked shots in 43 minutes.
With the Thunder struggling to score in the fourth quarter after blowing a 13-point lead, reserve guard James Harden was removed from the game with 4:24 left and OKC clinging to a three-point lead.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks opted for starter Thabo Sefolosha at that point because he was looking for defensive stops, not points.
Brooks rarely calls out a player for his shortcomings, and such was the case Saturday night. Harden had struggled defensively from the outset. He was defending reserve guard O.J. Mayo, who in the first quarter scored eight points in less than three minutes.
"James has been good for us all year," Brooks said. "I don't think he started the game off for us particularly well, but I thought he came back and had a nice stretch. I went back to Thabo defensively … I make that decision based on what I thought we needed at the time because they were going on a nice little run."
FOR THE RECORD
Keeping in mind the Grizzlies shot 37.8 percent from the field for the game, the Thunder had more assists, had 10 blocks, led by 13 after three quarters and lost in overtime, here are some records to ponder.
During the regular season, the Thunder was:
6-0: When holding the opponent to less than 40 percent from the field.
31-6: When it had more assists.
9-0: When it had 10 blocked shots.
16-2: When Ibaka had four blocks or more.
8-2: In overtime.