News

Durant wakes up to carry Thunder past Clippers

Durant wakes up to carry Thunder past Clippers

PLAYOFFS:Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) shoots against Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes (22) during the fourth quarter in game six of the second round of the 2014 NBA playoffs. Photo: Reuters

(Reuters) – Kevin Durant shook off a cold start to score 39 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers 104-98 on Thursday to clinch a place in the Western Conference finals.

League MVP Durant began the game with one-for-seven shooting from the floor, but caught fire and added 16 rebounds and five assists in a Game Six road win that gave the Thunder a 4-2 best-of-seven series triumph.

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Durant told reporters. “I just tried to stay with it, no matter what. My team mates did a great job screening for me.”

Durant’s assured performance carried the Thunder to a third West final in four years, in which they will play the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs.

It was far from easy going for Oklahoma City, however, as they had to rally from an 11-point deficit in the third quarter to muscle past the Clippers.

In Game Five, the Thunder were down by 13 in the closing minutes of the fourth but fought back to stun Los Angeles.

The Clippers’ Chris Paul, who took most of the blame for that loss with several bad plays in the final few moments, had 25 points and 11 assists in their season-ending defeat.

Blake Griffin added 22 points and eight rebounds.

For Los Angeles, it was a post-season of drama, starting when owner Donald Sterling made racial comments that got him banned for life from the NBA.

“We’ve gone through a lot of stuff over the last three or four weeks,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I don’t think that’s why we didn’t win. I don’t think we should use that as an excuse.”

For the Thunder, Game Five hero Russell Westbrook made just 4-of-15 shots from the field but recorded 19 points and 12 assists.

It was also a solid night for the Oklahoma City bench, although the team lost forward Serge Ibaka to a calf injury in the third quarter.

The Thunder made their push in the third after trailing early, with Oklahoma City using a 7-0 run at the end of the quarter to tie the game at 72-72 before carrying the momentum into the fourth.

As a whole, the Thunder out-scored the Clippers 62-48 in the second half.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

Ronda Rousey wants you to have a ‘knockout’ breakfast

20-overlay15

The MMA champion has teamed up with fast-food chain Carl's Jr. to pitch their latest breakfast creation.

in National

Arctic chills, messy energy politics await Obama in Alaska

16-overlay16

Shrinking glaciers, Arctic temperatures and a mix of messy energy politics await President Barack Obama as he begins his historic trip to Alaska.

in National

As Common Core results trickle in, initial goals unfulfilled

commoncore

Overall scores are higher than expected, though below what many parents may be accustomed to seeing.

in Sports

Goodell, Brady due in court for ‘Deflategate’ case

tombrady

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell are expected in court after failing to settle the "Deflategate" scandal.

in National, World

U.S. considering sanctions over Chinese cyber theft

cyber

Suspicions that Chinese hackers were behind a series of data breaches in the United States have been an irritant in relations between the world's two largest economies.