LOS ANGELES: Kevin Durant scored 39 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder advanced to the Western Conference final with a 104-98 win over the Los Angeles Clippers in game six of their playoff series.
The Thunder rallied from a 16 point first half deficit to tie the contest on the last play of the third quarter then stepped it up in the fourth quarter to win the second round NBA series four games to two.
League MVP Durant also had 16 rebounds and Russell Westbrook struggled early but still managed 19 points and 12 assists for the Thunder who also had to overcome large deficit to win game five.
Oklahoma City next faces the top seeded San Antonio Spurs who eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
Chris Paul finished with 25 points and 11 assists while Blake Griffin scored 22 points for the Clippers who started strong but then saw their offence start to tail off at the end of the second quarter.
In Washington, top seed Indiana advanced to a playoff showdown against defending champion Miami for a berth in the NBA Finals with a series-clinching 93-80 victory over Washington.
Indiana’s David West scored a game-high 29 points and sparked a decisive fourth-quarter Pacers run after the Wizards had erased a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
The Pacers defeated Washington four games to two in their second-round best-of-seven matchup and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the second year in a row. They will face a rematch with the Heat to decide a berth in next month’s NBA Finals.
Clipper owner Sterling won’t pay fine: report
In Los Angeles, embattled owner Donald Sterling, who was banned for life from the National Basketball Association, is threatening to sue the league, Sports Illustrated reported on Thursday (Friday in Manila).
The 80-year-old Los Angeles Clippers owner also said through a lawyer that he doesn’t plan on paying the $2.5 million fine the league slapped him with for his controversial comments.
Sterling’s lawyer Maxwell Blecher has written a letter to the NBA claiming that Sterling has done nothing wrong and “no punishment is warranted,” according to the American sports magazine.
The Sports Illustrated report cited unnamed sources as saying Blecher is arguing that Sterling’s due process rights have been violated and that he has not breached any article of the league’s constitution. This type of letter is often a precursor to a lawsuit.
In an interview with CNN broadcast earlier this week, Sterling claimed he “is not a racist” and said he made a “terrible” mistake in making earlier derogatory comments against blacks.
The Sterling controversy began last month when the American gossip website TMZ released an audio clip of Sterling telling his girlfriend that she should not bring black people to Clipper games.