For much of Wednesday night, not much went right for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kevin Durant struggled to get shots, James Harden’s game was off-kilter after early foul trouble and the Los Angeles Lakers seemed poised to head back home with the NBA playoff series tied.
Then, Durant and Harden made up for the first 46 minutes with two spectacular minutes to close.
Durant hit a 7-foot jump shot with less than 20 seconds left — and that was the exclamation point on a wild comeback that sent the Thunder to a 77-75 win in front of a sellout crowd of 18,203 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Game 3 in the best-of-7 series is 9:30 p.m. Friday at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
With the arena packed, a crowd estimated at more than 5,000 gathered in Thunder Alley, which is Reno Avenue in front of Chesapeake Energy Arena, to watch the game on the video board on the northwest side of the building.
Just as he was in Game 1, the Lakers’ Metta World Peace was booed loudly during pregame introductions and again each time he touched the ball or re-entered the game.
Everything else about Game 2 was different.
Durant managed just four first-half shots, and Harden had to sit out much of the second and third quarters after picking up his third foul early in the second.
With two minutes left, the Thunder trailed 75-68, and plenty of fans streamed toward the exits.
In a timeout, Thunder coach Scott Brooks was direct with his team.
“We’re down seven,” he said. “You don’t have to play perfect basketball but we have to be pretty close.”
Durant, Harden and the rest of the Thunder played pretty close to perfect closing out the game to take the 2-0 lead back to Los Angeles.
After most of the Thunder’s points in Game 1 came on the jump shot, the Thunder got to the basket to close the game.
A pair of driving layups from Harden and a dunk from Durant pulled the Thunder within one, with help from strong defensive play by Kendrick Perkins, whose playing status (strained hip) was a game-time decision.
“You can never discount the heart of a champion, and he has that heart of a champion,” Brooks said of Perkins. “He’s banged up. He’ll never tell you that but he is.”
Durant then nailed the jumper to put the Thunder ahead 76-75 with 18.7 seconds left.
Instead of getting the ball into Kobe Bryant’s hands for a potential game-winning shot, Steve Blake took a 3-pointer for the Lakers in the final seconds. Thabo Sefolosha grabbed the rebound to all but seal the Thunder win.
Durant finished with 22 points, two more than Bryant.