Oklahoma City was on the verge of taking an insurmountable 3-0 series lead with a five-point late in the fourth quarter Friday night. But instead of essentially punching their ticket to the Western Conference, the Thunder watched the Los Angeles Lakers come back this time for a 99-96 win.
"It was a heck of a game," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "Unfortunately, we lost the game, but it was as physical as you want a game to be. Both teams displayed a lot of toughness.
"I'm proud of our guys' effort. We just came up short -- nothing to be ashamed of. We'll come back tomorrow night with the same type of effort."
The late rally, led by Kobe Bryant, has turned the West semifinals into a series again. Yes, the Thunder's lead is still 2-1, but the series could head back to Oklahoma City 2-2 if the Lakers can take Game 4 Saturday night at Staples Center.
Kevin Durant said the Thunder expected the Lakers to come up with sense of urgency with their playoff lives hanging in the balance.
"We knew they were going to approach the game with a lot of intensity down 0-2," he said. "That's what they did to start the game off. We did a great job of fighting back and taking a lead. We played hard all game, we played hard all game and put ourselves in a position to win."