NBA: Hot-shooting Thunder beat Clippers 118-112
By BETH HARRIS
The Associated PressFirst published May 09 2014 11:56PM
Los Angeles • Kevin Durant scored 36 points, Russell Westbrook added 23 and the Oklahoma City Thunder outplayed the Los Angeles Clippers in the fourth quarter for a 118-112 victory Friday night and a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinal.
Serge Ibaka added 20 points and Westbrook had 13 assists for the Thunder in a game that neither team ever led by double digits.
Blake Griffin scored 34 points, and Chris Paul added 21 points and 16 assists for the Clippers, who saw their four-point lead disappear for good early in the fourth quarter. Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford added 20 points.
Oklahoma City led 113-107 on Durant’s turnaround jumper with 1:23 left. It followed Westbrook’s 3-pointer after the Clippers had closed within 108-107 when Griffin muscled in for a layup.
Game 4 is Sunday at Staples Center.
The Thunder shot 56 percent, and controlled the paint and fastbreak points against a Clippers team that never got into their favored run-and-gun mode.
J.J. Redick, who got off to a hot start in Game 2, was held to five points on 1-of-6 shooting. DeAndre Jordan was never a factor for the Clippers either, with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Matt Barnes gave them a lift with 14 points.
The Thunder gradually pulled away in the fourth, scoring eight straight points, including Durant’s three-point play, to take the lead for good. Former Clipper Caron Butler hit three 3-pointers to give his team the lead and then extend it.
Emotions boiled in the third, with double technicals called on Barnes and Kendrick Perkins, who stared hard at each other. Perkins took a step toward Barnes but got pushed away by Westbrook. By then, Griffin was already bloodied. He got hit in the face by Ibaka, but the only call by the referees was 3 seconds on the Clippers.
Griffin held a towel to his gushing nose and changed his jersey during a timeout.
The Clippers rallied at the end of the period, outscoring the Thunder 8-0 to take a 90-86 lead. They did it on free throws except for Griffin’s basket. Reggie Jackson was called for a foul and a technical, and then Durant fouled Crawford on a 3-point attempt with less than a second left. He made all three.
Neither team led by more than seven points in the first half, when the lead changed hands 14 times and there were seven ties. Ibaka had three fouls and Thabo Sefolosha two for the Thunder.
NOTES: Shelly Sterling, the estranged wife of banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling, attended the game. Her lawyer has said she wants to retain her financial interest in the team. ... Paul tied Elton Brand’s franchise record for most double-doubles in the playoffs with his sixth. ... Paul and Durant earned double technicals late in the first half after using expletives. ... Clippers F Hedo Turkoglu, out with a hairline fracture in his lower back, was able to pull on his gym shorts Friday, but coach Doc Rivers said it’s not looking good for him to return. ... Earlier Friday, the NBA hired Dick Parsons as the Clippers’ interim CEO. He is former chairman of Citigroup and Time Warner. Rivers said Parsons "is a very good hire." ... Rivers handed Crawford his Sixth Man of the Year trophy at center court before the game. ... Among the famous faces were Rihanna, former Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer, Billy Crystal, producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi, who pulled out his medal as the crowd cheered.