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

3 hours ago in Local

Thirty-six new citizens sworn in at Boynton Middle School

Naturalization ceremony

The applicants came from eighteen different countries.

7 hours ago in National

Trump looks to unify Republicans; Kasich reported dropping out

17-overlay

Billionaire Donald Trump assumed the mantle of presumptive Republican presidential nominee on Wednesday with a message on unity that also suggested he was not going to work too hard to placate some party establishment figures angered by his outsider candidacy.

7 hours ago in Local

Attorney General charges Cortland County man who flooded cemetery

Rain1

The man's water discharge project did not have a permit, and desecrated numerous graves.

8 hours ago in Local

ICSD budget will address costs of lead in water situation

Water1

District officials say they've adjusted their plans to pay for consultants and bottled water in schools during the investigation into lead levels.

9 hours ago in Local

Paladino defeats 18-year-old in reelection bid to school board

vote

High school challenger Austin Harig took on Paladino despite the latter's experience, including a run for the governorship.