After Grizzlies forward Mike Miller missed a late 3-pointer, the Thunder had one final chance to win with 2.9 seconds remaining. Durant hauled in an inbound pass from Thabo Sefolosha but settled for a 28-footer on a catch-and-shoot.
The rebound fell into the hands of Ibaka, but his putback was ruled no good after replay showed that it left his hands a half a second after the final buzzer.
“It looked good when it left my hands,” Durant said of his final attempt. “And Serge’s tip was just a half a second late. But we just got to move on.”
Brooks said he left the decision up to Durant.
“He has opportunities to catch and drive...but I give KD that decision to make a play,” Brooks said. “It was a tough shot. No question. It was a tough shot.”
And another tough break in crunch time.
In Game 2, the Thunder suffered a 111-105 overtime loss when, in the final 30 seconds, Ibaka traveled and Durant missed two 3-pointers.
In Game 3, Durant missed a questionable off-balanced 3-point at the end of regulation and Westbrook and Durant both fired ill-advised 3-pointers with the Thunder down just three with more than 20 seconds showing on the game clock. The Thunder walked out of that one on the wrong side of a 98-95 decision.
“A couple of plays here or there could have went our way,” Brooks said of Game 5.
Instead, the Grizzlies, staying true to their grit-and-grind philosophy, stole them.
They’ve now done it twice in Oklahoma City.
“We’re a team that’s able to bounce back from adversity,” said Grizzlies guard Mike Conley “It just says a lot about the resiliency of this team and the focus of it.”
Now, the Thunder, on the brink of what would be an alarming first-round exit, must find a way to get another one in Memphis, inside the rowdy arena affectionately nicknamed “The Grind House.”
“We got to impose our will from the beginning of the game,” Durant said.