Durant shines as Thunder stay alive
MEMPHIS - Agence France-Presse
City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, left, and Reggie Jackson (15) celebrate a score against the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of Game 6 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, May 1, 2014, in Memphis, Tenn. Oklahoma City won 104-84 to even the series 3-3. AP PhotoKevin Durant shook off criticism to score 36 points on Thursday as the Oklahoma City Thunder extended their NBA season with an emphatic 104-84 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Thunder, facing elimination in the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series, thumped the Grizzlies to level the set at three games apiece.
The decisive game seven will be on Saturday in Oklahoma City, where The Oklahoman newspaper Thursday ran a headline dubbing Durant "Mr. Unreliable" in the wake of some sub-par scoring performances in this series.
Readers were so irked that the newspaper apologized, saying the headline "missed the mark".
It may have hit home with Durant, who said before the game he needed to be more aggressive.
Durant, the NBA regular-season scoring champion and front-runner for Most Valuable Player honors, did just that, scoring 14 points in the first quarter alone as the Thunder seized control of the contest.
They led 56-41 at halftime and kept the Grizzlies on their heels throughout the second half.
Their decisive win was the first game in the series not to go to overtime.
Durant also pulled down 10 rebounds and made 14 of his 15 free throw attempts.
Russell Westbrook added 25 points for Oklahoma City, whose last first-round playoff exit was in 2010.
In the day's other Western Conference clash, the Los Angeles Clippers were trying to send the Golden State Warriors packing in Oakland, California.
The Clippers took a 3-2 lead in the series on Tuesday, when they notched an emotional home victory on the same day that owner Donald Sterling was banned for life from league activities over racist comments that were made public.