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BASKETBALL > Thunder put spurs on brink of elimination

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Agence France-Presse

The Thunder stand one win away from the NBA finals for the first time in their history after taking a 3-2 lead over the Spurs in the Western Conference finals

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The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Nick Collison (R) blocks the San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan’s shot during the game five of the Western Conference Finals at AT&T Center in 
San Antonio, Texas. AFP photo

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Nick Collison (R) blocks the San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan’s shot during the game five of the Western Conference Finals at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. AFP photo

The Oklahoma City Thunder are on the verge of reaching the NBA finals after beating San Antonio 108-103 with 27 points from Kevin Durant in game five of their Western Conference series.

Oklahoma City lost the first two games of the series but have stormed back to win three straight and now lead the Spurs in the best-of-seven series.

The Thunder can wrap up the series with a win in game six tonight in Oklahoma City.

“We never thought we’re supposed to wait our turn,” Durant said. “Coach always emphasizes that with every opportunity that you step on the floor. It’s a great opportunity to get better, to get to our dream.”

Durant scored 22 of his points in the second half while Russell Westbrook finished with 23 points and 12 assists for the Thunder, who are trying to advance to the franchise’s first NBA finals since 1996.
James Harden drained a key three-pointer from 24 feet out with 28 seconds left and the Thunder held on for the win. Harden scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter.

“The shot clock was running down and I had to make a play,” Harden said. “(Kawhi) Leonard was playing great defence on me. I just shot it with confidence. West Conference finals. That’s a big shot.” Durant nailed a pair of free throws with 0.8 seconds remaining to seal the victory. Durant was also the hero of game four, scoring 36 points in the fourth quarter after the Thunder snapped the Spurs’ 20 game win streak dating back to the regular season.

“That was a total team effort,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Everybody did their job. I thought we played as hard as we can play.”

The Thunder are seeking to become the 15th team in NBA history to overcome a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series.

The Spurs were the last team to do it when they rallied to beat the New Orleans Hornets in the Western Conference semifinals four years ago after trailing two games to none.

Manu Ginobili had a game-high 34 points and Tim Duncan finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds on June 4 for the Spurs who have now lost three straight games for the first time this season.

San Antonio is the first team to lose a home game in the series.

June/06/2012

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