A push in the final three minutes, combined with a strange sequence that included a Chris Paul foul on Russell Westbrook, saw Oklahoma City grab a win, 105-104, over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.
The Thunder screamed back in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. With 17 seconds left and Oklahoma City down, 104-102, Westbrook stole the ball from Chris Paul. The ball fell to Reggie Jackson, who went for a layup but had the ball fall out of his grasp as Matt Barnes hit him on the top of the hands.
Referees ruled it Thunder ball despite having touched Jackson last, due to wording in the NBA's official rule book. The rule gives the ball back to the team that touched it last if the dispossession is caused by an opposing player hitting their hand.
Here, in full. pic.twitter.com/b7zauJqz6k— Danny Savitzky (@DannySavitzky) May 14, 2014
With six seconds left after the fracas, Westbrook put up a desperation three-pointer which missed, but drew a foul on Paul. Three free throws later, Oklahoma City sealed the game and grabbed a 3-2 series lead.
After the game, Clippers coach Doc Rivers was not pleased about the ruling on Oklahoma City retaining possession on Jackson's lost ball.
"At the end of the day, we have a replay system we're supposed to look at," said Rivers. "I don't want to hear that we couldn't look at it. That's a bunch of crap. That could be a series-defining call and that's not right."
Los Angeles was led by Blake Griffin, who scored 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting, adding 17 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. Chris Paul finished with 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting, with 14 assists and four steals. Jamal Crawford scored 19 points off the bench. DeAndre Jordan failed to score a single point and had just four rebounds.
Russell Westbrook scored 38 points for Oklahoma City, dishing out six assists while grabbing five rebounds and three steals. Kevin Durant scored 27 points on 6-of-22 shooting, adding 10 rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block. No other Thunder player scored in double figures.
Game 6 will take place on Thursday in Los Angeles and will air on ESPN.