|Date of game: 5/15/2014
Recap: LA Clippers vs. Oklahoma City
Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - There was no controversy in the Thunder's closeout Game 6 victory in Los Angeles.
The talk this time centered around the league MVP, as Kevin Durant poured in 39 points to help Oklahoma City rally past the Clippers in a 104-98 clincher to advance to the Western Conference finals.
Durant connected on 11-of-16 from the floor after missing six of his first seven shots and added 16 rebounds and five assists for the Thunder, who will next meet the defending conference champion San Antonio Spurs with a trip to the Finals on the line.
"I started off slow, but it's not how you start, it's how you finish," Durant said.
Russell Westbrook got going late and finished with 19 and 12 assists, while Steven Adams stepped up with a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds in the wake of Serge Ibaka's early exit.
"This is what we've done all year. We've all stuck together and found ways to win," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said.
Blake Griffin and Chris Paul both filled the box score in Los Angeles' season- ending loss. Griffin logged 22 points, eight rebounds and eight assists before fouling out, while Paul, whose mistakes in the closing seconds of Game 5 were justifiably magnified, totaled 25 points, 11 assists and seven boards.
Paul made several late blunders on Tuesday as Oklahoma City stole the series lead with a stunning 17-3 run over the final four minutes. The comeback was aided by a questionable out-of-bounds call that Clippers head coach Doc Rivers claimed "robbed" his team of a win.
The subsequent hoopla surrounding the memorable finish brought plenty of stars to Staples Center, including Lakers superfan Jack Nicholson, and they all witnessed the Clippers blow another double-digit cushion, albeit not in as heartbreaking a fashion as their previous meltdown.
The Thunder trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half and by 11 early in a third quarter that saw Ibaka limp off with a left calf injury he never returned from.
Durant kept it close with 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the frame, and a Westbrook putback, Reggie Jackson dunk and Nick Collison corner 3-pointer in the final minute pulled the visitors even at 72-72 heading to the fourth.
Westbrook banked in a runner to open the fourth, giving Oklahoma City its first lead since it was 1-0, and a 10-0 run in the middle stages gave the Thunder the breathing room they needed.
Durant and Jackson finished the flurry with 3-pointers, and consecutive offensive fouls on Paul and Griffin kept the Clippers from climbing back.
Griffin clobbered Westbrook on a fastbreak for his sixth and final foul with 2:27 remaining, and the two free throws extended the margin to 97-86.
Both teams traded late turnarounds in Games 4 and 5, and the Clippers tried to make it three in a row with seven consecutive points to cut the deficit to 97-93 coming down the stretch.
DeAndre Jordan, however, fouled a driving Westbrook at the other end with the shot clock winding down, and Westbrook's two free throws inside the final minute all but sealed the outcome.
"I believed we were good enough to win it this year. Oklahoma City told us we were not," Rivers said. "I thought the teams were very evenly matched, and (the Thunder) stepped up and won two very close games."
Durant and Westbrook combined to miss their first nine shots, and the Thunder found themselves trailing 30-16 when the Clippers scored the final eight points of the opening quarter.
Durant started feeling it midway through the second with three consecutive 3- pointers to pull Oklahoma City within 41-36, but a 9-0 LA run, capped by a Jordan dunk, rebuilt the hosts' double-digit cushion.
It was a 50-42 game in the Clippers' favor at halftime.Game Notes
The Thunder-Spurs series begins on Monday in San Antonio ... Oklahoma City has
reached the conference finals three times in the past four years ... The
Clippers are 0-6 all-time in the conference semis ... Jackson chipped in with
14 points ... J.J. Redick netted 16 points for the Clippers, while Jordan
pulled down 15 rebounds ... Los Angeles owned a 52-28 advantage in the paint.