This game wasn’t always pretty. Tons of fouls. Lots of misses.
But for Thunder fans, the end result was beautiful.
Thunder 105, Clippers 104.
On a night that Kevin Durant struggled and Serge Ibaka struggled more, it was Russell Westbrook who kept the Thunder in the game until his buddies joined the party. The Thunder point guard scored a game-high 38 points and Oklahoma City took a 3-2 lead in this Western Conference semifinal.
Now, the Thunder has a chance to close out this best-of-7 series and advance to the Western Conference Finals. Win on Thursday night in Los Angeles, and Oklahoma City will play in the conference finals for the third time in four seasons.
Game 6 will be at 9:30.
Two days after the Clippers’ miracle comeback in Game 4, the Thunder had its own miracle comeback.
Trailing by 13 points with four minutes left, the Thunder looked like the wheels were coming off. Westbrook had 35 of his points at that point, but he went cold on a couple of possessions and the Clippers took advantage.
Some Thunder fans even started to leave The Peake.
But then Westbrook got to the basket and scored. Durant followed with only his second 3-pointer of the game. After a couple of Chris Paul misses, Durant got to the free throw line and suddenly it was a two-possession game.
Over the final 85 seconds of the game, the Thunder outscored the Clippers 10-3.
But the craziest moments of all were reserved for the final 20 seconds or so. Durant scored a basket, then Westbrook came up with a steal, and after a referee’s review kept possession with the Thunder, Westbrook was fouled by Paul while shooting a three.
He hit all three free-throws with 6.4 seconds left to give the Thunder a one-point lead.
But the Clippers still had plenty of time to score. After a timeout, Paul took the inbounds pass and dribbled toward the goal, but as he approached the lane, Reggie Jackson helped a bit off of Jamal Crawford and got a fingertip on the ball.
It came out of Paul’s hand and was scooped up by Ibaka.
He gathered it in as the final buzzer sounded.
How did the Thunder do it? How did the Thunder win on a night that Durant was 6 of 22 and Ibaka managed only eight points?
“Faith, man,” Westbrook said during his postgame interview on TNT. “We did a good job of just staying together, kept chipping away and staying together.”