OKLAHOMA CITY -- Serge Ibaka's Oklahoma City Thunder teammates piled on top of him in front of a petrified Memphis Grizzlies bench as the announcer roared his name and the crowd exploded in joyous embraces, the collective bouncing shaking the concrete.
Not 10 seconds later, the fans had been totally silenced, the music was shut off, and the Grizzlies started doing their own hopping and hugging.
That is the narrative of this series in time-lapse form. Wild swings of emotion, unpredictable turns and an it-is-never-over vibe.
Ibaka's tip-in was a half-second late. It really did look good in real time (those fans weren't overzealous), but official Bill Spooner called it correctly instantly. Replays confirmed it, just as Zach Randolph's layup was a half-second late at the end of the fourth quarter before this series went to its fourth consecutive overtime game.
Tony Allen went sprinting off the floor when he got the news -- nearly sideswiping coach Dave Joerger and certainly giving him whiplash -- happy to escape with a 100-99 victory and 3-2 series lead heading back to Memphis for Game 6.
This one had everything: the Grizzlies' seemingly pathological refusal to hold a fourth-quarter lead, including allowing another four-point play; Allen playing his normal role as the merchant of chaos; the endless paradox that is the Russell Westbrook experience; official Joey Crawford snapping in the final seconds; and Kevin Durant wading further toward the edge of a legacy-impacting abyss and doing so with an outrageous passivity.
Let's start with the mild controversy, which was Crawford. With 27.5 seconds left in overtime and the Thunder down by the 100-99 margin that would be the final tally, Durant held the ball with a second free throw on the way that could have tied the game. But then Crawford blew his whistle and took it away from him.
"I looked at K.D., and we were like, 'What is Joey doing?'" Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said. "We were both kind of confused as to what was going on."
Crawford had asked the scoreboard operator to indicate that both teams were in the bonus on the scoreboard. This is standard procedure in the last two minutes of any quarter when teams shoot free throws on the second foul. Referees like to be able to look at the scoreboard to determine if a team gets shots on a non-shooting foul. Crawford had just called a non-shooting foul on Allen, and the Thunder were in the bonus but didn't immediately know it because it wasn't on the scoreboard.
But the board didn't change. After seeing it hadn't been fixed, Spooner, the official closest to the scorer's table, repeated the request. When it wasn't corrected, Crawford stopped play and took the ball from Durant, essentially breaking his rhythm and causing a delay. Crawford stomped over and demanded the scoreboard be altered.
In the end, Crawford was right, but it was an odd time and odd reason to call for a break in the action. Crawford has been known to berate scoring officials when he's unhappy, and the scorer's table in Oklahoma City has been known to irk officials at times. Last season, Dan Crawford, another veteran referee, stopped the game to scold a scorer's table employee in Oklahoma City over his actions.