For the first time since 1996, when the franchise was in Seattle, Oklahoma City is in the NBA Finals by virtue of their series-clinching win Wednesday night over San Antonio.
For all the points, rebounds and assists that filled Kevin Durant's impressive stat line, it was a defensive play he made that fired up his coach and teammates.
"That's his first charge of the year," Russell Westbrook interjected when Durant was asked about drawing an offensive foul against Manu Ginobili in the fourth quarter of Oklahoma City's 107-99 win in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals on Wednesday night.
Indeed, it was.
The league's three-time scoring champion had 34 points and 14 rebounds while playing all of regulation for the first time all season, leading the Thunder into the NBA finals. But it was taking that charge that got his team pumped up.
Durant stepped in front of Ginobili's drive during a 3½-minute scoreless stretch by San Antonio that allowed Oklahoma City to take the lead for good.
"I just wanted to go out there and sacrifice my body for my team. I knew that would give us a little spark," Durant said.
"Manu's an unbelievable player at twisting his body and making crazy shots, so I just wanted to time it right. It felt good to get that for my team and I could tell they were excited that I got my first one when I looked at the bench."
Westbrook added 25 points for the Thunder, who trailed by 18 in the first half and erased a 15-point halftime deficit.
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