Russell Westbrook finished off Oklahoma City’s stunning comeback.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers believes he should never have had the chance.
Westbrook scored 38 points and made three free throws with 6.4 seconds remaining, and the Thunder overcame a seven-point deficit in the final 50 seconds to beat Los Angeles 105-104 on Tuesday night and go up 3-2 in the Western Conference semifinals.
“I think when you get a win like this it brings everybody closer,” Westbrook said. “It lets you know you can’t mess around. You have to take every moment, every play and go out and win the game.”
The play that led to Westbrook’s free throws is in dispute.
Kevin Durant made a 3-pointer, then Los Angeles’ Jamal Crawford missed in close before Durant made a layup with 17 seconds left. Westbrook stole the ball, and in a scramble, the Thunder got possession with 11.3 seconds to play, setting up Westbrook’s play. The Clippers believed the ball went off Oklahoma City’s Reggie Jackson, but the officials awarded the ball to the Thunder. After review, the play stood.
“Everybody knows it was our ball,” Rivers said. “The bottom line is they thought it was a foul and they made up for it. Let’s take away the replay. We were robbed. It was our ball, whether it was a foul or not.”
NBA crew chief Tony Brothers explained the call after the game.
“When the ball goes out of bounds, the ball was awarded to Oklahoma City,” he said. “We go to review the play. We saw two replays. The two replays we saw were from the overhead camera showing down, and the one from under the basket showing the same angle but from a different view. And from those two replays, it was inconclusive as to who the ball went out of bounds off of. When it’s inconclusive, we have to go with the call that was on the floor.”
The Thunder were more focused on what they did after the call. They can clinch the series Thursday in Los Angeles.
“I’ve never seen a game like this with us,” Durant said. “It just shows that you can never keep us down. We’re going to fight until the end no matter what happens. We fought through it all and persevered through it all.”