Oklahoma City, OK – Who needs a blowout when you can steal a win at the end?
Kevin Durant scored the go-ahead basket with 18.6 seconds left Wednesday night and the Oklahoma City Thunder closed on a 9-0 run to beat the Lakers 77-75 in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series.
Durant snaked his way to the baseline on the right side and dropped in a one- handed floater over Pau Gasol for the lead.
"I just tried to put some touch on it and it went in," said Durant.
Earlier in the game-ending run, Durant leapt in the LA backcourt to steal a pass from Kobe Bryant, racing down for a fastbreak dunk.
Indeed, the Thunder may have stolen a win.
Despite trailing 75-68 with just two minutes left, they will go to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Friday with a 2-0 lead in the series.
"All I told them was you're down seven -- you don't have to play perfect basketball, but you have to be pretty close," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
Durant scored 22 points, Russell Westbrook had 15 and James Harden added 13 off the bench for the second-seeded Thunder, who were coming off Monday's 29- point win in Game 1, when they led by as many as 35.
Durant and Harden scored all nine points on Oklahoma City's 9-0 run at the end.
After Durant's steal, the Lakers missed their last three shots of the game -- Bryant was off on a tough turnaround jumper and missed a three-pointer, while Steve Blake also missed a three from the corner.
The Lakers had an out-of-bounds call reversed in favor of the Thunder near the end.
"The last two minutes we didn't do a good job of executing offensively and defensively and that was the key to the game," said Lakers coach Mike Brown. "They did what they had to do and got two wins and now we have to do the same."
"We just didn't get it done in the last two minutes," Brown said. "But our guys fought. I have to give them credit for fighting."
Bryant and Andrew Bynum scored 20 points apiece to lead LA and Gasol had 14.
The Lakers had a three-point lead going into the fourth quarter after out- scoring the Thunder 18-12 in the third. They were up 75-68 after Bynum's turnaround with 2:08 remaining, but Harden snapped a nearly four-minute drought with a layup at the other end, sparking Oklahoma City's run.
"We knew going into this game that they were going to play harder," Brooks said of the Lakers -- but after having a win snatched from their hands, Brown said his team's mood was sullen.
"It's not good," the Lakers coach said. "I don't think anyone's happy in there. It's a tough loss but we'll regroup and be ready to go Friday."
Bynum had 10 points and the Lakers closed the first quarter with an 8-3 burst to take a 22-21 lead.
Harden caught Metta World Peace with an inadvertent elbow to the face as the Thunder guard dribbled around his back to get past the Lakers forward in the first.
World Peace, of course, was suspended seven games by the NBA for a vicious elbow to Harden's head in a regular season game April 22.
In the second quarter, Nick Collison and Harden were both knocked down when World Peace clotheslined Collison across the chest. World Peace didn't draw a foul on the play on the Thunder's side of the court.
Later, Gasol and Harden bumped each other in the lane after a Lakers foul shot and Gasol bumped Harden again as he turned to run back up court. Harden was subbed out after picking up his third foul with 7:03 left in the half and the chippiness died down.
The Thunder led by as many as seven in the second after a 10-2 run to open the quarter and carried a 48-45 lead into the break.
The Thunder missed their first seven shots of the third quarter as the Lakers took the lead. The drought stopped on a 4-on-1 dunk by Durant but the Thunder shot just 26.7 percent in the quarter for 12 points and trailed 63-60 going into the fourth.
"It was a great comeback by them," said Bryant. "They got themselves a gritty win."
The Thunder, after sweeping defending champion Dallas in the first round, are 6-0 this postseason...The third-seeded Lakers were out-shot 42 percent to 38.5...Gasol had a game-high 11 rebounds while Serge Ibaka had seven blocked for the Thunder...Lakers forward Devin Ebanks and Bynum were both fined Wednesday -- Ebanks for knocking over a chair and pulling his jersey off after his Game 1 ejection and Bynum for not making time for the media following practice on Tuesday. Ebanks was fined $25,000 and Bynum $15K.