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.