Thunder roll past Spurs to level series
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma - Agence France-Presse
Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts during his team’s NBA Western Conference Finals series against the San Antonio Spurs. Durant scored almost half of his 35 points in the final quarter of the game. AFP PhotoKevin Durant scored half of his 36 points in the fourth quarter on June 2 as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs 109-103 to tie the NBA Western Conference Finals at 2-2.
Serge Ibaka contributed some unexpected offense, scoring 26 points on perfect 11-for-11 shooting for the Thunder, who improved to 7-0 at home this post-season.
San Antonio, who won the first two games at home to stretch their winning streak to 20 straight contests before losing game three on Thursday, will try to reassert themselves when they host game five tonight.
The winners of the best-of-seven series advance to the NBA Finals, where they will play either Miami or Boston for the championship.
“Both teams took care of business at home. Hopefully we continue that,” San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili said.
Durant made seven of his nine attempts from the floor in the final quarter. In one five-minute span he scored all 16 of Oklahoma City’s points - helping them hold off a tenacious Spurs team that trailed by as many as 15 points but were down by just four midway through the fourth.
Westbrook’s off night
Kendrick Perkins added 15 points with nine rebounds for Oklahoma City, helping make up for a lackluster night for Russell Westbrook, who scored just seven points.
Tim Duncan scored 21 points with eight rebounds for San Antonio.
Kawhi Leonard added 17 points, Ginobili scored 13.
Ibaka’s jump shot with five-and-a-half minutes left in the third quarter gave Oklahoma City their biggest lead of the night at 68-53.
San Antonio responded with an 18-2 scoring run, spearheaded by Ginobili. The Argentinian’s three-pointer cut the deficit to 73-71 with 1:16 left in the third quarter.
Ibaka delivered the defensive play of the game in the final minute of the third.
San Antonio’s DeJuan Blair cruised to the basket for what seemed like an inevitable fastbreak dunk, but Ibaka raced in and smacked the ball away from behind to keep it 75-71 going into the final period.
Durant launched his fourth-quarter outburst with a fade-away jumper and finished with another jump shot with a minute and a half remaining.
He beat the Spurs with drives to the inside and crisp outside shots, and even an alley-oop lay-up off a pass from James Harden.
“I didn’t tell myself that I need to go score, because what we were doing was working,” Durant said.
“It started to open up for me, and I saw some lane - that gave me some opportunities to make some shots.”