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All Tied Up: Thunder Even Series At 1-1 After Controversial Finish

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Two nights after an embarrassing loss to open up the Western Conference Semifinals, the Thunder has redeemed itself with a memorable win in Game 2 to tie up the series. Russell Westbrook led the way with 29 points and Kevin Durant added 28 of his own as the Thunder snuck out of San Antonio with a 98-97 win. 

Related: Thunder Social Scene

With the Thunder leading by one point with 13.5 left in the game, all OKC needed to do was inbound the ball to Kevin Durant so the Spurs can intentionally foul the superstar and send the Thunder’s best free throw shooter to the line with a chance to put his team up by three points.

If only it were that easy.

Dion Waiters was the in bounder for OKC on the play, and the clock began to tick down as Durant struggled to create space and get open. Waiters felt the pressure to throw in the ball, so he heaved an arcing pass to the middle of the court, hoping Durant would be able to come down with it.

Instead of Durant coming down with the pass and cushioning OKC’s lead at the line, complete madness ensued.

Danny Green was able to get his hand on Waiters’ pass, freeing up the basketball. Green was then able to gather the ball and immediately throw it ahead to Patty Mills. Instead of shooting a layup with nine seconds left on the game clock, Mills dished the ball to a streaking Manu Ginobili, who kicked it back to Mills who worked his way over to the corner with five seconds left in the game.

Mills appeared to be set for an open corner three-pointer, but OKC center Steven Adams made an incredible play to get a tip of his finger on the ball to force a miss. The ball never made it to the rim, creating a scrum under the basket for the loose ball. Fortunately for OKC, the Thunder was successful in holding on for dear life as the clock ticked down to zero.  

Everyone in a blue jersey was jumping for joy, but the entire Spurs team was angered because they thought Waiters fouled Ginobili in the chest with an elbow before all the final-second-craziness happened, which would’ve allowed the Spurs to regroup and set up a play for their final possession.

“Something certainly happened on the sideline I thought,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said about the play after the game.

Ultimately there wasn’t a call made, and the Thunder has now made it a series after an impressive overall performance.

The Thunder shot 48.1 percent from the field in the win, while dialing in on the defensive end of the floor from the start. While Saturday’s blowout loss was littered with one defensive miscue after another, it was obvious the Thunder wasn’t going to be bullied like that again. Whether it was on the perimeter, or in the paint, OKC showed grit and toughness on defense and rarely allowed a Spurs’ defender to seep free.

The Thunder actually led by nine points early in the fourth quarter, but two 3-pointers from Green put the Spurs back in business, but OKC won the battle down the stretch.

One problem the Thunder did encounter was guarding San Antonio forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished with 41 points on 15-for-21 shooting. Serge Ibaka, Adams and Enes Kanter all took turns covering the offensive monster, but it didn’t matter who was covering him because the ball kept going in the basket. Aldridge showed off his magnificent arsenal of low post moves throughout the night, but it wasn’t enough to get the job done.

Westbrook and Durant were resilient throughout the entire game, and each superstar took turns carrying the load at different stretches. Ibaka, Adams and Kanter each finished with 12 points each, while Adams added 17 rebounds while playing at a high level throughout the night.

Kawhi Leonard was limited to 14 points and seven rebounds, while Tim Duncan only scored two points in 28 minutes of action. Ginobili provided a solid spark off the San Antonio bench with 11 points and two steals.

After three full days off, Game 3 will take place on Friday night at 8:30 p.m. inside of the Chesapeake Energy Arena in OKC. 

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