Scott Brooks couldn't believe it.
No one could.
But when the Thunder coach turned toward the crowd, placed both hands atop his head and said over and over “Oh my God,” his raw reaction illustrated just how incredible the final sequence was.
Russell Westbrook nailed an improbable game-winning 3-pointer from the left corner with one-tenth of a second remaining to lift the Thunder to a 113-112 overtime win over Golden State on Friday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
His shot capped a wild scramble inside the final 10 seconds and stood as retaliation for the buzzer-beating defeat the Thunder suffered two weeks at Golden State.
“I was just thinking there were so many good moments I can't wait to watch it tonight,” Brooks said of his reaction.
Thabo Sefolosha inbounded the ball from the baseline to Kevin Durant, who briefly was covered by two defenders. He dished a bounce pass to a wide-open Serge Ibaka, who missed a potential game-tying 15 footer. But as the shot bounced high off the rim, Westbrook darted from the right wing into the lane. He skied for the rebound and, with two Warriors in front of him, got just enough of his fingertips on the ball to alter its path. The ball hit the floor and was headed out of bounds.
But Sefolosha raced to it, recovered it and flipped it over his head and back in play. It landed directly in Westbrook's hands. He took one dribble toward the 3-point line, faked to his left, spun back to his right and released a lightly-contested prayer.
Westbrook said he was going for the win all the way.
“I'm not going for the tie,” he said. “There's no need to tie the game. I did the same thing in Golden State, but unfortunately it didn't work out for us. But I'm thankful that it went in this time and (with) less time on the clock.”
The win preserved the Thunder's unbeaten mark at home, moving OKC to 8-0 inside Chesapeake Energy Arena, the last five coming on this current six-game home stand.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, in the regular season and playoffs, Westbrook was just 1-for-20 in his career on game-tying or go-ahead field goal attempts in the final five seconds of fourth quarter or overtime.
But his big bucket Friday night bailed out the Thunder when its offense grew too reliant on an ineffective Durant down the stretch. Durant was 1-for-4 with a turnover in the overtime session.
“Kevin's obviously our first option, and whenever those shots are not falling I try to find myself and be assertive,” Westbrook said. “Either get an offensive rebound or try to make the next big shot.”
After escaping with a one-point win on Nov. 14 behind an Andre Iguodala game-winning buzzer beater, Golden State got a taste of what a last-second stunner feels like.
And the Warriors were just as shocked as the Thunder was on that Thursday night.
“We were so close. All it took was a rebound, and that's something that we do very well,” said Warriors forward David Lee. “The amount of “I-can't-believe-that-happeneds on the last play, there were about four of them there. I can't believe we lost the ball out of our hands. I can't believe they saved it without going out of bounds. I can't believe he hit a shot fading away in the corner. Tough break.”
Westbrook finished with a game-high 34 points, 11 of which came in a third quarter that almost got out of hand for the Thunder. Golden State constructed a nine-point lead on multiple occasions in the period, but Westbrook willed his team to with six with a series of steals, hustle plays and trips to the free throw line.
“I thought those three or four minutes late in the third quarter put us in a position to win the game,” Brooks said. “His sheer determination cut that lead to (six) going into that fourth quarter.”
Westbrook then saved his best for last, creating a memory for himself and 18,203 of his biggest fans.
“These are the reasons why we're all in this. For moments that last forever,” Brooks said. “This was one of those games and one of those shots I'm sure Russell will; he doesn't even have to exaggerate it like I've done with my family and my kids … He doesn't have to exaggerate it. There's no bigger fish story than what he just did tonight.”