At the end of the third quarter on Wednesday night, with the score tied at 77, Derek Fisher looked like he had missed a three at the buzzer.
Oklahoma City was a bit sluggish, the undermanned Minnesota Timberwolves — without three starters, including Kevin Love — were playing scrappy and the game was still up for grabs.
But as Fisher's corner heave ricocheted off the rim, Minnesota center Gorgui Dieng, strangely, rose up and accidentally guided it back in after the buzzer.
Because the ball was still on its way out of the cylinder, it was correctly ruled a goaltend. Fisher received three points. The Thunder went to the fourth up 80-77. A dejected Dieng needed to be consoled in the Minnesota huddle. And the momentum had shifted.
“I've never seen that before,” seven-year pro Kevin Durant said after the Thunder's 106-97 victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena. “He's a rookie, so I'm sure he's going to learn from that one.”
But on this night, the blunder appeared to act as a fire starter for OKC.
To start the fourth quarter, with the crowd back into the game, Jeremy Lamb drilled a three on the opening possession.
It was the back end of a 6-0 run in 12 seconds of game time, basically a six-point possession with the quarter change acting as a turnover.
“That was a big momentum shifter,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said.
But the run didn't stop there.
Over the next four-plus minutes of game action, with Durant on the bench, OKC went on 16-4 run. OKC would go on to win and this proved to be the game's deciding stretch.
“The first three quarters, we didn't like (how we played),” Durant said. “But the start of the fourth, that second unit gave us what we needed.”
Particularly on the defensive end.
The lineup of Fisher, Lamb, Nick Collison, Reggie Jackson and Perry Jones cranked up the energy. And Minnesota, void of its usual offensive weapons, struggled to get any easy look.
In the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter, the Timberwolves went 2-of-8 from the field with three turnovers.
“More defensive pride,” Jackson said of the stretch. “I think we kind of tuned in and decided we wanted to win this ballgame tonight.”
All they needed was one of the strangest goaltends in NBA history to get them kick-started.