Kevin Durant walked to the far corner of the court, flapping his arms the whole way, trying to quiet a raucous Peake.
The reason: Russell Westbrook had some important free throws to shoot.
But Durant couldn’t watch.
With the playoff series — and Thunder season — hanging in the balance Tuesday night, the Thunder superstar made like a kid watching a horror movie through the slits between his fingers. He turned his back and crouched like a catcher. Sat down on the hardwood and draped his arms over his knees. Stared into the stands and let the fans’ reaction tell the story.
He wasn’t the only one who didn’t see those game-winning free throws.
There were a good number of Thunder fans who turned off their TVs and a few who even bolted from The Peake when it looked like their team wasn’t coming back in Game 5.
Down 13 points with four minutes left.
Down seven with 49 seconds left.
One of the fans who woke up Wednesday morning thinking that the Clippers had won was Scott Cline. The Edmond resident rises at 5 every morning so he can get to work in Del City on time, so these late tip times have been difficult. When Chris Paul nailed a shot and put the Clippers up seven with less than a minute to go, Cline turned off the TV and headed to bed.
Normally, he leaves on the notifications on his cell phone, but he didn’t want to deal with all the beeping complaints. He silenced the phone.
Wednesday morning, Cline got up, got ready for work, got in the car and headed out.
Eventually, he turned on the radio.
The first thing he heard on the Sports Animal was Clippers coach Doc Rivers ranting about the referee’s call that he said cost his team a victory.
Cost the Clippers a victory?
It suddenly dawned on Cline — the Thunder won.
“To say I couldn’t believe it,” he said, “would be putting it mildly.”
Same goes for Joel Driver. He turned off his TV after that Paul shot, too, out of anger.
“I was just so frustrated because of how bad we were playing and how horrible their offense looked down the stretch,” he said.
The Oklahoma City resident didn’t go straight to bed, but he wasn’t paying attention to any media, social or otherwise. Only after he woke up Wednesday morning did Driver check Facebook.
“Did we seriously just win this game???” a friend posted.
“Surely he’s not talking about the Thunder,” Driver thought, “but he must be.”
A quick check of our website, NewsOK.com, and the headlines confirmed his suspicions.
Thunder comes back to beat Clippers, take 3-2 series lead.
How Kevin Durant rallied from one of the roughest nights of his career.
Westbrook to the “Russ-cue”.
Driver was still in a bit of disbelief even after seeing the highlights on SportsCenter.
“It was pretty amazing,” he said.
No doubt about that. The Thunder scored eight points in 43.7 seconds. The Clippers committed two uncharacteristic turnovers. The officials made one heavily disputed call that was still causing waves Wednesday.
According to Kevin Pelton, an NBA analyst for ESPN Insider, the Thunder had a 0.5 percent chance of winning the game when it was down 13 points with 4:01 to play.
Francois Murdock, a Thunder fan in Columbus, Ohio, turned off the game a few minutes before that, only to see Twitter blow up with news of the comeback. He turned his TV back on in time to see Westbrook’s last free throw.
Sean Crews, an Oklahoma City University grad in Chicago, left Buffalo Wild Wings after the Thunder went down seven. He’d gone about three blocks on his bike when he stopped at a red light, checked Twitter and realized what was happening. He raced back to catch the final seconds.
And Rhonda Skrapke, a Thunder fan in Enid, turned off the TV after that Paul shot. She got up Wednesday morning and told her husband, who went to bed before she did, that the Thunder had lost. But before she had backed her car out of the driveway, she heard someone say something about Reggie Jackson making the play of the game. She got to call her husband with a happy correction.
“My day was made,” she said.
The same goes for any Thunder fan who gave up a bit too early.
Scott Cline, the guy with the early wake-up call, spent part of his lunch hour Wednesday on YouTube watching what he missed. (Is there any chance KD did the same, just to see what those free throws looked like?)
A photo of Durant sitting on the court while Westbrook shot his free throws went from sports fodder Wednesday morning to internet craze Wednesday afternoon. KD was being photoshopped into all sorts of iconic scenes. The Muhammad Ali knockout of Sonny Liston. The sinking of the Titanic. The first steps on the moon.
Good times, Thunder fans.
Now, the Thunder returns to Los Angeles with a 3-2 lead in the series and a chance to close out the Clippers on Thursday night. Even though Cline is happy about the victory Tuesday night, he is disappointed that he bailed too soon.
“The way Russ was playing and the history of comebacks,” he said, “I should’ve known.”
No more turning away.
“Won’t happen again.”
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.