“Before the ball tipped, I told him this is his time,” Durant said. “And he came out there and responded and made some big plays.
“He was just frustrated with himself. I think he let it take over him a little bit. We all do it. He just let it go and came out there and made some really, really big plays and in the overtime really took over.”
You could tell Westbrook's confidence was dented. He missed an 18-footer on OKC's first overtime possession. Then when Dallas took a 104-101 lead, Westbrook took a backdoor pass from Thabo Sefolosha and dropped the ball in the basket, but not with his usual force.
On the next Thunder possession, with a chance to take the lead, Westbrook had an open 16-footer. He hesitated. You rarely see doubt in Westbrook's demeanor, but we might have seen it then. If so, it was fleeting.
Westbrook regrouped, forged shooting space and nailed a 16-footer a few feet closer to the baseline.
“Sometimes you have nights like that,” Westbrook said. “You just gotta continue to fight through it.”
The Thunder never lost the lead. Westbrook scored on a drive to give OKC a 107-104 lead, then made two foul shots to make it 109-105 with 20.7 seconds left.
When it was over, Westbrook found Collison, with whom he shared the UCLA backcourt during a run to the 2008 Final Four. Collison, not Westbrook, was the point guard on that team.
Westbrook gave his old friend a little pop, a handshake, a quick hug and a short conversation.
“Russ is a non-stop attacker,” Collison said. “You gotta be on your toes and be ready to play against him.”
The whole 48 minutes. Or 53, in this case, when Westbrook, like he often does, saved his best for last.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.