Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Thunder pull even

OKLAHOMA CITY—Kevin Durant stood before his adoring home crowd, proudly holding his MVP trophy above his head during a pre-game ceremony.
He spent the next few hours showing how he earned it.

Durant had 32 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the L.A. Clippers 112-101 last night to tie their Western Conference semi-final series at a game apiece.
“We wanted to come back and respond,” Durant said. “So I think that’s what fuelled the team tonight.
“We just went out there and played extremely well and left it all out there, and came out with a good ‘W,’” he added.
During his emotional MVP acceptance speech on Tuesday, Durant called teammate Russell Westbrook an MVP-calibre player.
Westbrook backed up Durant’s words with 31 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists for his third triple-double in his past five playoff games.
“I think Russ played harder than all of us combined,” noted Clippers’ guard Chris Paul.
“He was all over the place.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks took Durant out of the game with 1:21 to go—costing him a shot at the triple-double.
Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha each scored 14 points for the Thunder, who shot 51 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Clippers 52-36.
“It was the perfect storm,” said Clippers’ guard Jamal Crawford.
“They did everything they could to win, and they got everything they wanted tonight.
“That wasn’t the Clippers team we’ve been and I’m sure we’ll get back on track,” he added.
J.J. Redick scored 18 points, Paul had 17 points and 11 assists, and Blake Griffin added 15 points for the Clippers.
L.A. made 15-of-29 three-pointers in Game 1, but just 9-of-27 last night.
Game 3 goes tomorrow night in L.A.
The Thunder got an offensive boost from an unlikely source in the third quarter—Sefolosha, a defensive stopper.
He hit a mid-range jumper, then dunked after a steal by Westbrook to give the Thunder a 78-66 lead.
Sefolosha dunked again, then got a steal that led to a three-pointer by Westbrook that gave Oklahoma City a 90-73 advantage.
Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers said he expected Durant and Westbrook to score, but not Sefolosha.
“We can win if they [Durant and Westbrook] both have good offensive games,” he noted.
“What we can’t do is then give them that plus everything else. And I thought that’s what happened tonight.”
Elsewhere, Indiana beat Washington 86-82 to tie their Eastern Conference semi-final series at 1-1.

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