OKLAHOMA CITY: Kevin Durant, who was named league MVP on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), had 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers 112-101 to even their series at 1-1.
Russell Westbrook registered a triple double with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Thunder who rebounded from a one-sided loss in game one of the best-of-seven second round series.
“We just played physical, made some adjustments and played hard,” said Durant.
Oklahoma City received some timely help on Wednesday night from role players like Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.
Ibaka tallied 14 points and seven rebounds while Sefolosha scored all of his 12 points in the third quarter in front of a crowd of 18,203 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Perkins grabbed nine rebounds for the Thunder, who out-rebounded the Clippers 52-36.
Chris Paul finished with 17 points and 11 assists to lead the Clippers, who went just nine-of-27 from three-point range after making 15-of-29 from beyond the arc in game one. Paul has been dealing with a sprained left thumb and right hamstring injury.
J.J. Redick scored a team-high 18 points but had just two after halftime, and Blake Griffin shot a disappointing five-of-13 from the field for 15 points. Griffin finished third in MVP voting on Tuesday behind Durant.
“They were by far the more physical team,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “We didn’t do it back. We weren’t physical or mentally very tough.”
Lightning in the Oklahoma City area caused a minor power outage in the arena in the first half. When the teams returned to the court, the Thunder had more spring in their step.
Sefolosha, who is known more for his defence than offence, scored on back-to-back possessions to cap a 10-2 run that stretched Oklahoma City’s lead to 78-66 midway through the third quarter.
Later on, Ibaka’s layup off a Durant pass capped another 11-0 surge and made it 93-73, and the Thunder led by double digits the rest of the way.
The series shifts to Los Angeles’ Staples Center arena for game three on Friday.
Durant said they are looking forward to the challenge of playing the Clippers at home.
“We got to stick together and move the ball,” said Durant, who picked up his first career MVP award. “We have won in their building before. We got to go into a hostile environment and get the job done.”