Like always, the Thunder was not deterred by dire straits. OKC made up a 20-point deficit and did it less than nine minutes of game action. But after a barrage of 3-pointers helped the Thunder take a 79-78 lead with 6:45 left in regulation, OKC never led again.
Memphis scored on five of six possessions to retake command, and the Thunder was playing uphill the rest of the way. Caron Butler’s four-point play (OKC is 0-3 in this series when it has a four-point play in the final three minutes) helped keep the Thunder alive, and Westbrook’s steal and dunk with four seconds left sent the game to overtime.
But Memphis controlled overtime, right up to Ibaka’s ill-fated follow shot. And now the Thunder is on the edge of that cliff.
Westbrook keeps saying this series is “first to four,” and he’s right. “We’ve won there (Memphis) before. We know what we need to do to win the game. We just gotta come out and play our game. Come out and impose our will.”
Imposing will is just talk. Playing determined defense is action. The latter is all that will save this Thunder season as it sits on the brink.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at . 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.