MEMPHIS, Tenn — What a weird, strange trip this was for the Thunder.
The boys in blue came to Memphis and lost a game they weren't supposed to lose, then won a game they weren't supposed to win.
Two days after an epic meltdown, Oklahoma City authored its own classic comeback.
Thunder 133, Grizzlies 123.
In triple overtime.
And you thought that game on Saturday was crazy. The Thunder blowing a 16-point, second-half lead was nothing compared to what went down Monday night.
Down 18 points, the Thunder won by 10 points.
In triple overtime.
“Words can't describe the emotions,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
With the Mississippi River cresting and the nation watching the water rushing a few blocks from the FedExForum, the Thunder and the Grizzlies did their best to turn the attention their way.
The Thunder started Monday night like it finished Saturday afternoon.
Playing awful offense.
These guys scored 16 points in the first quarter — that's right, 16 points — and remember, they happen to have the NBA's scoring champion on their roster.
When the Grizzlies opened up that 18-point lead midway through the second quarter, the Thunder had been outscored 67-30 going back to the midway point of the fourth quarter in Game 3.
That is only 30 points in more than a half of basketball.
That ain't going to cut it.
The dagger? The shot that put the Grizzlies up 18 point was from O.J. Mayo as the shot clock wound down. It was off balance. It was desperation. It still found the bottom of the net.
You had a feeling that maybe this wasn't the Thunder's night. Maybe it wasn't this team's series either.
Slowly but surely, Oklahoma City clawed their way back into it, and like Saturday's game had plenty of goats, Monday night's had lots of heroes.
Daequan Cook hit a couple threes. James Harden made some big-time plays on both ends of the floor. Russell Westbrook was downright amazing.
And when the Thunder pulled within four points at halftime, you knew this game was far from over.
Who could've guessed just how far it was from over?
The Thunder built a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter that it promptly blew. It built a seven-point in the first overtime that it blew, too.
Monday was that type of magnificent, grand game.
“It's unfortunate somebody has to lose,” Brooks said.
Had the Thunder been the team that lost, though, this series would've been over. The number of teams that have come back from a 3-1 deficit is small, and the Thunder would've been a decimated bunch had it lost this one.
The crazy thing, the Thunder would much rather have things happen this way, losing the first in Memphis then winning the second instead of the other way around. Look at all the momentum that this team brings back to Oklahoma City for Game 5 on Wednesday night. Look at the doubt that has crept into Memphis' psyche.
The Grizzlies were staring a 3-1 lead square in the face.
Now, this is a three-game series with two games in OKC.
This is getting good.
Early in overtime, Harden was fouled hard by O.J. Mayo on a breakaway, causing Brooks to walk nearly to halfcourt and argue that a flagrant foul needed to be called.
“That was not a basketball play,” he insisted.
Mayo walked toward the Thunder bench.
“Blah blah blah,” he said, looking toward Brooks.
As if the moment couldn't get any richer, Thunder assistant Mo Cheeks got into the act. The visiting bench had been hearing it from a couple hecklers sitting behind the scorer's table all night.
“Shut up!” Cheeks hollered.
He glanced around like a kid with his hand caught in the candy jar, then broke into a wide grin.
Get ready, Oklahoma City. The fun is headed your way, and the home team is riding high.
“So many guys played well for us,” Brooks said.
As much as role players like Harden and Collison contributed, no one was any better than the Thunder's stars. Russell Westbrook scored 40 points, and Kevin Durant scored 35 points.
They surged when the Grizzlies tired. They made big plays every time the Thunder needed one.
“Those guys brought it tonight,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said.
This was playoff basketball at its best and a trip to Memphis at its weirdest. But considering the Thunder has evened this playoff series and taken the momentum from the Grizzlies, it might just be the best trip ever.