LOS ANGELES — Game 4 between the Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night began just 21 hours after the conclusion of Game 3.
No way would the aging Lakers dare run with the young gazelles from OKC, not after narrowing their deficit in the playoff series to 2-1 with a 99-96 victory on Friday night.
Triple-digits were forbidden territory for LA, but that's precisely where the Lakers wound up as the Thunder's young legs sprinted by in the closing minutes for a 103-100 comeback victory at Staples Center.
OKC now leads 3-1 and a potentially clinching Game 5 will be Monday at 8:30 p.m. at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
LA players and coaches continually have preached the importance of patience and pace against the Thunder.
In the end, the Lakers appeared to be running on fumes and it cost them an apparent 2-2 tie in the series.
Game 1 had been timed with a stopwatch as the Thunder blew out LA by a 119-90 count.
Games 2 and 3 were timed with an hour glass thanks to the Lakers dictating tempo.
The plan worked in Game 2, although OKC closed the game with a frantic 9-0 run for a 77-75 victory and a 2-0 lead.
The plan returned in Game 3 and the Lakers prevailed thanks to converting 41 of 42 free throws and outscoring the Thunder by 15 at the line.
But was that the plan for Game 4?
Oddly enough, it was the Lakers who forced tempo in the first half, persistently pushing the ball upcourt to take a 56-46 lead, thanks in part to outscoring the Thunder 13-8 on fast-break points.
In the second half, fatigued seemed to overtake LA, which managed just two points on the break.
The Lakers might not play as old as many think, but they most certainly are as big as advertised.
Their 43-39 rebounding advantage included 18 offensive rebounds and a 19-13 advantage in second-chance points.
LA used its significant size to outscore OKC 34-16 in the paint in the first half. Tired legs appeared to take over, and the Lakers shrunk after intermission as the Thunder owned an 18-14 advantage in the paint after intermission.
After an impressive first quarter, the Lakers' shooting plummeted — 60.0 percent in the first quarter; 40.7 percent in the second; 41.2 percent in the third; and 31.8 percent in the fourth.
LA began to choke on its own fumes.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, a pair of 23-year-olds, did in the Lakers in the final period, scoring 11 and 10 points, respectively. Westbrook finished with 37 points (15 for 26 from the field) and five assists. Durant had 31 points (10 for 18), 13 rebounds, two steals and two assists.
Lakers legend Kobe Bryant had a game-high 38 points, plus eight rebounds and five assists, but he came up empty in the end.
Bryant shot just 1 for 6 from the field in the last four minutes, and the lone field goal was at the buzzer and completely insignificant.
The Thunder trailed 91-78 with 8:02 remaining and closed with a 25-9 run.
For the third straight game in the series, the team that led in the final three minutes was not the team that wound up winning.