LOS ANGELES — The Oklahoma City Thunder couldn't get over the hump.
For 2 1/2 quarters, it lingered there, like smog in the Los Angeles sky.
No matter what the boys in the road blues did, they just couldn't crack the seven-point barrier. They tried and tried but had no idea how to hurdle that hump.
Until they got the ball to Russell Westbrook.
The Thunder's star point guard carried his team in the fourth quarter. He brought Oklahoma City back from a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit and did the heavy lifting long enough for Kevin Durant to drill a series-changing 3-pointer from the top of the key with 13.7 seconds remaining to lift the Thunder to a 103-100 win over the Lakers in Game 4 on Saturday night inside Staples Center.
The Thunder's first chance to close out the series will be Game 5 at 8:30 p.m. Monday inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
With how dialed in Westbrook has been, it's hard to imagine the Thunder not finishing off the Lakers at the first opportunity.
Westbrook scored a team-high 37 points on 15-of-26 shooting to slay the Lakers. He poured in 10 of his points in the fourth quarter.
“Westbrook had a heck of a game,” said Lakers coach Mike Brown. “He imposed his will and he made plays especially when it counted in the fourth quarter, which led to a 32-point quarter for those guys.”
Westbrook knew he needed to do something.
After falling behind by eight with 10:07 left in the second quarter, the Thunder got within seven nine times. The final occasion came with 5:36 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Westbrook quickly grew frustrated with the seesaw affair and simply took over.
After the Thunder pulled within nine on a pair of free throws by Durant with 7:19 remaining, Westbrook peeled off nine straight Thunder points.
He hit two pullup jumpers, the second bringing OKC within seven for the final time, and finally got his team over that pesky seven-point barrier on a driving layup and three-point play. It pulled the Thunder within 94-90 with 4:54 remaining. Westbrook's run ended on another pullup jumper with 4:16 to play that pulled the Thunder back within four after Kobe Bryant made one of several difficult fadeaway jumpers.