Scott Brooks turned toward the scorer's table and slammed his palms on the padded top.
Thunder fans know the feeling.
This season has been a wee bit frustrating. This team isn't always pretty. Isn't always smooth. Isn't always all that easy to watch.
A championship contender, this doesn't yet appear to be.
But after a 115-113 thriller of a victory against the Nuggets on Monday night, the Thunder reminded us again why we can't look away.
These guys always make things entertaining.
And it was never more thrilling than in the fourth quarter.
“In that fourth quarter, we really locked in and did a much better job of playing inspired basketball,” Brooks said.
The Thunder trailed by nine points at the end of the third quarter, and before you could blink, the Nuggets had extended that lead to 12 points.
But gradually, the Thunder cut into the lead. With a three-point guard lineup — Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson and Derek Fisher, who continues to play like a much younger man, played along side Kevin Durant and Nick Collison, then Serge Ibaka — the Thunder pestered the Nuggets. After taking that 12-point lead, the Nuggets had eight consecutive possessions without a field goal.
By the time they finally hit a shot again, their lead had been whittled down to a possession.
“Just gotta love guys that play with everything they have,” Brooks said.
The Thunder coach was talking specifically about Fisher, who Brooks said ignited the turnaround, but he could've easily been talking about every guy in Thunder blue who played the fourth quarter.
No one slacked.
After a Westbrook shot was blocked out of bounds with about five minutes remaining, Durant fired a shot. A Nugget defender was close by, but Jackson swooped in and poked at the ball. He got a piece of it, enough to jar it loose.
Jackson eventually corralled the rebound.
Then, Westbrook hoisted a three. He posed after releasing the ball — Hey, Russ, you know you're allowed to follow your shot, right? — and when the shot clanged off the iron, he was still posing.
The ball caromed all the way to the free throw line.
He sprinted halfway across the court from the far wing and snagged the ball. Durant passed back to Westbrook, who hoisted another three.
That was a four-shot possession that resulted in a big-time basket. The possession could've easily ended well before that shot finally went in, but the Thunder battled.
A few minutes later, the boys in blue did it again. Westbrook scrambled after a long Denver rebound, and as the Nuggets converged, he dove to the floor.
The next possession was more of the same. Westbrook battled to rebound his own shot, then Ibaka battled to rebound a Westbrook miss.
The end result: the shot of the night.
Durant hit a three from the top of the key with Wilson Chandler's hand in his face. As the ball ripped the cords and The Peake went ballistic, Durant did the shoulder shimmy shake.
It gave the Thunder a three-point lead with less than 90 seconds left.
“Winning plays,” Westbrook said.
That they were.
Even though a clear flop by Ty Lawson and a missed call by the officials with 3.5 seconds left nearly marred the comeback — that was why Brooks uncharacteristically assaulted the scorer's table — even that was entertaining. Seems that there's never a dull moment where this team is involved.
Don't let it frustrate you, Thunder fans. This team is young and going to get better. This team has two of the best players on the planet and is going to be fine.
Embrace the drama.
Enjoy the roller coaster.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.