Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden (13) drives between Memphis Grizzlies defenders Mike Conley, left, and Marc Gasol, of Spain, right, during the first half of Game 4 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series on Monday, May 9, 2011, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Lance Murphey)
He had a hand in nearly every play that helped the Thunder turn a one-point deficit entering the fourth quarter into a 10-point lead 6 1/2 minutes into the final period. Daequan Cook scored 10 points off the bench and kept the Thunder in what was becoming a blowout in the first half with much-needed perimeter shooting.
The bench unit helped the Thunder close the first half on a 17-6 run to pull within 53-49 at the break. The Thunder didn't take its first lead, however, until Westbrook scored on a driving layup with 5:10 left in the third quarter.
The Thunder led by three with under a minute left to play in regulation and had a chance to finish off the Grizzlies then and there.
But Thunder center Kendrick Perkins missed two foul shots that could have given the Thunder a five-point lead with 49.5 seconds remaining. And after O.J. Mayo missed a jumper at the other end and had his miss trickle out of bounds, Westbrook had a shot blocked by Marc Gasol.
Memphis guard Mike Conley then splashed in a rainbow 3 over Perkins to tie the score at 96-all with 3.5 seconds remaining. The shot was nothing short of a prayer, but it seemingly dropped from the heaves to give Memphis new life. Westbrook had a potential game-winning baseline jumper bounce off the rim as time expired.
The Thunder led by as many as seven in the first overtime, but Memphis again clawed back. After Conley and Mayo both fouled out, reserve guard Greivis Vasquez hit a leaning 3-pointer to tie the score at 109 with 9.4 seconds remaining in the second overtime.
“They made some incredible shots,” Brooks said.
But the Thunder got the final say, buckling down on defense in the final period to avoid having to win three straight.
“This game is something people are going to be talking about for a while,” Durant said.
“I'm glad we were a part of it.”