BY BERRY TRAMEL
The ball went sailing out of bounds, and so did Thabo Sefolosha. Because a game this good, already into overtime, couldn't end just quite yet.
The Thunder was down two points to the Warriors, their suddenly new nemesis, and the seconds burning away quickly.
Sefolosha leapt toward the baseline seats, where he eventually crash landed. But not before grabbing the precious jewel, his back to the court, and then flipping the ball over his shoulder with his right hand, a difficult maneuver that would hyperextend a mortal's elbow.
Instead, it hyperextended the game another four seconds.
Which is all Russell Westbrook needed to catch the ball, twist away from Harrison Barnes and nail a corner 3-pointer with a tenth of a second left, lifting the Thunder to a 113-112 overtime victory Friday night.
And speaking of hyperextension, can I interest anyone in a Thunder-Warrior playoff series?
Two games this season, two November classics. The Warriors beat the Thunder 116-115 two weeks ago in Oakland, on Andre Iguodala's baseline fadeaway shot at the buzzer. Westbrook had given the Thunder a lead with a deadeye 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left.
What goes around comes around. It's as if the basketball gods declared this series deserved to be even.
“You can tell, this is something starting to build up really cool between us two.” Kevin Durant said.
The drama left Scotty Brooks speechful. Foreman Scotty is usually plain vanilla on any subject with the cameras rolling, but he was loquacious Friday night.
“You love this game for these type of moments,” Brooks said. “So many good moments, I can't wait to watch it (on video) tonight … that's why we're in this. For moments that last forever.”
The Thunder and Warriors certainly make for some great theater.
“It makes you ready for the playoffs,” said OKC's Reggie Jackson. “If we could just go ahead and call it a wrap on the season and go ahead and meet them in the playoffs, that will be even more fun.”
It could happen. And if it does, get plenty of rest. You won't want to miss a second.
For the Warriors, Steph Curry, who scored 32 points on 13-of-26 shooting, launching rainbow 3-pointers. Blossoming stars Klay Thompson, who had an off night (5-of-19), and Harrison Barnes, who did not (26 points).
For the Thunder, Westbrook and Durant, who combined to make just 17 of 47 shots but alternately kept the Thunder alive with will and explosion. And Serge Ibaka, who had another monster game (18 points, 13 rebounds, four blocked shots).
The Warriors played without Igoudala, their defensive star, but Barnes superbly guarded Durant.
The Thunder played the second half without Kendrick Perkins, who suffered a dislocated finger. That's usually no big deal, except Gran Torino teamed with Ibaka to let the Warriors have little in the paint. Golden State took advantage of rookie center Steven Adams, who played in Perkins' stead.
“There's no question they're an exciting team and they're tough to guard,” Brooks said. “Whoever plays either team is going to have their hands full.”
The Warriors were in control, up five with three minutes left in regulation. The Thunder was in control, up four with two minutes left in overtime. The Warriors were in control when the ball was headed out of bounds and Thabo flew into the seats.
“Just one of those fun games to be a part of,” Jackson said. “It was a great atmosphere when we were there in Oracle (Arena). A heartbreaking loss. And then, I guess, a great game for us (here).
“The fans were great. They were joyous. They were enthused. They were hyped. I think we all were. Two storybook endings. It's been fun.”
And if these teams meet in the playoffs, the fun is just starting.
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.