Thunder Overcome Slow Start To Eliminate Clippers
The NBA's most valuable player this season performed at that caliber during a time it was needed most. Kevin Durant scored 39 points along with 15 rebounds and 5 assists as the Oklahoma City Thunder eliminated the Los Angeles Clippers 104-98 in six games.
PG Chris Paul led the Clippers with 25 points and 11 assists while PF Blake Griffin had a career-high 8 assists in addition to 22 points and 8 rebounds.
Aside from the first quarter, Durant was as efficient as he was prolific when it comes to scoring. From the second quarter on, Durant scored 36 points on an impressive 11 of 16 from the field. He ultimately finished 12 for 23, including 6 of 8 from three-point range.
Thunder PG Russell Westbrook was just 4 of 15 on field goals, finishing with 19 points. But he compensated with 12 assists versus 5 turnovers.
First quarter complacency plagued Oklahoma City yet again in these playoffs. The Thunder committed six turnovers in the opening quarter alone while Los Angeles finished with an 8-0 run to carry a 30-16 lead into the second.
Former Sooner and Oklahoma City native Blake Griffin set the tone again for the Clippers' frontcourt. Griffin finished the first half with 12 points along with 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
The Thunder were dealt another blow when PF Serge Ibaka left with 7:24 remaining in the third quarter with a calf injury. It didn't affect the reigning league MVP. Durant continued his efficient night of scoring with a flawless quarter-- 14 points on a perfect 5 of 5 from the floor.
And like L.A.'s first quarter finish, Oklahoma City closed out the third with an 8-0 run; capped with a Nick Collison three-pointer with less than two seconds remaining. It tied the game at 72.
It wasn't until Westbrook sank a seven-foot jumper with 10:41 remaining in regulation did the Oklahoma City Thunder have their first lead of the night. After exchanging multiple made two point shots, OKC created separation with a 10-0 run; topped off with a Reggie Jackson three-pointer to make it 90-80 with 6:00 remaining.
For Griffin, his game ended on his sixth foul with 2:27 remaining following a blatant hit on the head of Russell Westbrook during a fast break.
Oklahoma City advances to the Western Conference Finals for the third time in four seasons. The Thunder will play the Spurs Monday evening in San Antonio at 8:00 p.m. CST.