BOSTON — With 74 seconds left and the Thunder trailing by three, Kevin Durant pulled up from 26 feet away on the right wing and let a 3-point attempt fly without hesitation.
The NBA three-time scoring champ's velvet shooting stroke was perfectly in sync after taking a pass from teammate Russell Westbrook. A sellout crowd of 18,624 at TD Garden, fearing the worst, began to groan as Durant's wide-open shot took flight.
“Oh, man. It felt great,” Durant explained. “When it left my hand, it was on line … but it was a little bit short.”
Even though his shot didn't fall and the Celtics slammed the door with a 108-100 victory, Durant said he would do it all over again.
“I'll take that shot 10 out of 10 times,” Durant said with conviction.
And Thunder coach Scott Brooks would have no objection.
“I thought that shot was good,” Brooks said afterward. “We wanted to take a 3 or get a layup. We were spacing the floor and he's a shot-maker. That shot looked good. Unfortunately, it didn't go in.”
Granted, the score would have been tied at 101 and there still would have been plenty of work to do if Durant's 3-pointer had found the mark, but the miss brought an abrupt halt to a tidal wave of momentum that just as easily could have resulted in a magical comeback victory for OKC.
Celtics center Kevin Garnett converted two free throws 14 seconds after Durant's miss and Boston's new sixth-man sniper Jason Terry drilled a 27-foot rainbow from the left wing with 36.7 seconds remaining to give the Celtics an eight-point advantage and seal the deal.
The loss snapped the Thunder's three-year winning streak in Boston and also snapped their three-game winning streak on the heels of a humbling home loss to Memphis last week.
OKC jumped out to a 28-19 lead in the final minute of the first quarter Friday, then allowed the Celtics to take command by shooting 63.2 percent in the second quarter (75.0 percent from 3-point range) to outscore OKC 27-17 in the second period for a 48-45 halftime lead.