Russell Westbrook drove the side of the lane and suddenly skied, a fearless point guard on a peerless night. Westbrook took the ball solely with his right hand and slammed home a running dunk, and the roar returned to the Ford Center. "Loudest I’ve ever heard a crowd get,” said James Harden. "I couldn’t hear myself,” said Kevin Durant. Here’s how electrifying was that dunk. How electrifying was that crowd. The cold-shooting Thunder nailed 3-pointers on its next two possessions, courtesy of Harden and Durant, and the majestic Lakers had been caught in the final minute of the third quarter. With the final period an inferno of noise and celebration, the Thunder turned closers and beat the Lakers 101-96 to cut Los Angeles’ lead to 2-1 in this Western Conference playoff series. The crowd was bathed in blue, with Thunder shirts supplied to all 18,342 revelers. They came early, chanted "Beat LA! Beat LA!” 15 minutes before tipoff and worked themselves into a frenzy as Rumble dropped from the sky. Think OU-Tech football in that jumparound game. Think Gallagher-Iba after Big Country’s half-court shot. Think high noon 121 years ago to the day. Put a roof on the Land Run and you’ve got an idea of the Ford Center atmosphere Thursday night. But every jet needs fuel to burn, and the Thunder didn’t supply it much of the game, trailing 15-3 early and never catching up until that Durant 3-pointer. Thunder coach Scott Brooks, in a loving way, blamed the crowd for the dismal getaway. "It was an emotional start,” Brooks said. "You can look at our guys and just see, they were so proud of what the fans were giving them. It was impressive.” Hard to keep the home fires burning when the Lakers are running a clinic (they made their first seven shots). But the Thunder scratched back. Laker coach Phil Jackson said before the game the play of the Thunder, not the crowd, would determine this one, and after the game Dr. Phil said the Thunder got the crowd back in it, not vice versa. Maybe so. But when the crowd returned, the Thunder seemed energized with a fortified ability to finish. Durant played the game of his life, if you take away his 8-of-24 shooting. He had 19 rebounds and guarded Kobe Bryant most of the fourth quarter; Kobe shot 2-of-10 the final 12 minutes. Westbrook was superb, with 27 points and eight rebounds. Harden got off the mat of going scoreless in back-to-back LA games and scored 18 points. And Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison again put the clamps on the lay-in drill that Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum ran early. And the crowd erupted. Danced and shouted and made merry on this historic night, Oklahoma City’s first NBA playoff game. Maybe the happiest people in the building were Durant’s two grandmothers, who sat courtside. One seemed too feeble to even stand for the national anthem, but when her grandson hit his second of two straight shots to give the Thunder an 84-80 lead, she rose to her feet in glee. "Phenomenal,” Durant said. "They (the entire crowd, not just his grandmothers) kept us in the game. That’s truly the meaning of homecourt advantage. "Feels good to bring the win to Oklahoma City.” Soon enough, like Saturday, Kobe and Gasol will be back trying to take command of this series. It will take a mighty effort to get back to LA tied 2-2. But on 89er Day, all was right with Oklahoma City. Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.