Have you caught your breath yet? Better yet, are you breathing period?
Just like Game 5 against Denver, last night’s game was the kind of thing you’re going to talk about with friends the rest of your life. It wasn’t just the best Thunder game in history, it was maybe of the all-time playoff games in NBA history.
This tweet to me from @struts10 summed it all up to me: “Just heard a noise from the kids room, my six-year-old was up that whole time watching his Thunder win in 3OT.” Seriously, that says everything to me right there. These moments, we’ll remember. All of it’s just so awesome.
And in a game like that there are about 200 hundred “moments” that are memorable, unbelievable and heartbreaking. As a fan, these are the games that truly put you to the test. The players have the luxury of actually playing. We just have to sit on our hands and watch. It’s excruciating.
In a game that lasted more than four hours, there were twists, turns, ups, downs, big plays, small plays, middle plays and so many crazy moments that you forgot about because they happened in the first quarter and that was so, so long ago. So here are my top 10.
10. KD’s stuffs on Z-Bo.
This one is only No. 10 because it happened in the first half and in this game, who cares what happened in the first half? But it’s too good of a cram to be ignored. Durant pledged to be more aggressive and attack the rim in this game. The proof is in the poster.
9. The review.
With the Thunder leading 107-101 with 1:20 remaining in the first overtime, James Harden made a terrific play on an O.J. Mayo 3, blocking it straight up in the air. Mayo went up for it and smartly threw it off the side of Harden’s head out of bounds. The officials went to review the play and while replay confirmed it was off Harden, what was missed was that Mayo’s right foot was clearly out of bounds before he jumped for the ball, making him ineligible to touch it.
Somehow this was missed on the review and the ball was awarded to the Grizzlies anyway.
8. The Thunder blocks Gasol.
OKC was up four in the third overtime, leading by four with 1:20 left. Memphis badly needed a basket and went to one of their best options — Gasol on the block. He spun once, came back to his strong hand in the lane and looked to have a quality hook shot on the way up. But KD helped down on Gasol, extended his go-go-gadget arms and stuffed it right back into Gasol’s grill.
7. The scramble.
With the game tied at 119-119 with 30 seconds remaining and Memphis in possession, the Grizzlies got a good look inside but Zach Randolph missed a chippy. Then Gasol missed a tip. Then Randolph missed another layup. The ball bounced around, was saved by Nick Collison, then saved again by Nick Collison before finally winding up in Harden’s hands. Describing this wild scramble is just impossible. But it was pretty crazy and in the end, gave the Thunder a chance to win at the end of the second overtime.
6. Westbrook’s step-back.
Previous to that scramble, the Thunder trailed by two and in need of someone to step up. Westbrook, who had 40, got Gasol on him on a switch and deftly pulled off a tough step-back move and drilled a 20-foot jumper to knot the game at 119-119.
5. Harden’s save.
After a big stand in the second overtime, the Thunder just had to secure a rebound. Which was becoming more and more of a problem. The ball hit off a Thunder player and was headed out of bounds and back into the Grizzlies’ hands with 2:18 left and the game tied. Harden somehow controlled his body, leaped far under the basket and skillfully saved it to Nick Collison.
4. Harden’s answer.
The Thunder had their backs to the wall after Greivis Vasquez finished a wild and-1 to put Memphis up three with a minute to go in the second OT. Westbrook attacked the rim, collapsed the entire Memphis defense around him and at the last second as he flew under the backboard, kicked out to an open Harden. With a defender flying at him and the shot clock about to go off, the Harden calmly knocked down a 3 and kept OKC alive.
3. Vasquez does a crazy thing.
To end the first overtime, the Grizzlies needed a miracle down 109-106. And Vasquez delivered. With Westbrook in his face, Vasquez launched an off-balance 3 with nine seconds left and swished it, somehow. A second overtime was forced and the Grizzlies once again, escaped the jaws of defeat for at least five more minutes.
2. Mike Conley, from deep.
So to even have this whole overtime party, it took an impossible 3-pointer from Conley at the end of regulation. Vasquez’s shot was great, but Conley’s was deeper and had Kendrick Perkins right in his face. Memphis was down 96-93 with 13 seconds left. Gasol had just blocked a Westbrook jumper and the Grizzlies race up the floor looking for a shot. Lionel Hollins smartly elected not to call a timeout which would’ve given the Thunder a chance to foul. Conley found some space and floated a high-arching shot over Perkins’ big paw. It dropped and we were off to another hour of basketball.
Conley and Vasquez’s shot were bigger and more improbable, but since the Thunder won and also because it was so very, very pretty, Kevin Durant gets the top spot with his shake-and-pop over Shane Battier to ice the game. OKC was up six with 30 seconds left and with the way the Thunder were having trouble closing Memphis, this wasn’t over. But Durant ended all worries with a nasty jumper over Battier. Just lovely.