DENVER — After forcing overtime with a 13-2 run in the final three minutes of regulation, the Thunder eventually was done in by a “three” in the final three minutes of overtime against the Denver Nuggets.
Not a 3-point shot, nor a 3-point play, but three offensive fouls were called against OKC in the final three minutes of the five-minute extra period.
Each call was key as the Nuggets snapped the Thunder's six-game winning streak with a 121-118 victory Sunday before a sellout crowd of 19,155 at the Pepsi Center.
Kendrick Perkins fouled out on an illegal screen with 2:56 remaining in overtime and the Thunder trailing by two points.
Thabo Sefolosha was whistled for a hip check with 58.3 seconds left, which resulted in the Nuggets taking a one-point lead at the 46.5 mark.
The final blow came when Nick Collison was called for a moving screen with 6.1 seconds remaining as Kevin Durant was attempting to break free from Andre Iguodala for a potential game-winning shot with the Thunder trailing 117-116.
“One of the things we don't do, we don't complain,” OKC coach Scott Brooks said afterward. “They call it as they see it. They do their job. I do my job and the players do their job. That's neither here, or neither there. They outplayed us tonight.”
It brought a gut-wrenching end to an emotional weekend for Brooks, who chose to be at the game even though his mother, Lee, died on Saturday.
Brooks flew to California on Saturday and returned on Sunday in time to coach his team.
It was the second straight overtime game for OKC, which has had astounding success in games that go extra minutes.
Before its loss against Denver, the Thunder was 4-0 this season and 15-3 in overtime games since 2010-11.
OKC appeared to be done, trailing 107-96 with 3:04 remaining in regulation. The Thunder started out slowly and was particularly sluggish much of the fourth quarter before coming to life with a 13-2 run to close out regulation.
The Thunder frequently has been whistled for offensive fouls on screens this season. Is there something they players are doing wrong technically?
“Well, I'm sure if you rewound it, there was something technically wrong with it,” Collison said of his play. “History has told us late in games they (refs) usually let guys grab and hold. It's more important for me to try and set (a screen) than to try and get technique. But, I'm sure I moved and he called it. Technically, I'm sure I moved because I wasn't 100 percent set.”
Perkins calmly discussed his thought on the question of technique.
“We'll just continue to set good screens,” Perkins said. “That's what we do over here. That's not going to stop us. It happens in the flow of the game. It'll be like that some nights. You've just got to fight through it. You never know how the game is going to be determined.”
Russell Westbrook and Durant led the late surge with 11 and 10 points, respectively, in the fourth period.
Durant, who scored a career-high 52 points in an overtime victory at Dallas on Friday night, led OKC with 37 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and two steals.
For the first time in his career, Westbrook scored 30-plus points for the fourth straight game and finished with 36 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
The game was marred by 61 total fouls and 48 turnovers, 24 from each team. Westbrook and Durant both struggled, with seven and five turnovers, respectively.