Kevin Durant scored half of his 36 points in the fourth quarter on Saturday as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs 109-103 to tie the NBA Western Conference Finals at two games apiece.
Defensive stalwart 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 3 on Thursday, will try to reassert themselves when they host Game 5 today.
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 trend,” 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.
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 on two-for-10 shooting.
Tim Duncan scored 21 points with eight rebounds for San Antonio.
Kawhi Leonard added 17 points, Ginobili scored 13, while Tony Parker and Boris Diaw chipped in 12 points apiece.
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 Argentine’s three-pointer cut the deficit to 73-71 with 1 minute, 16 seconds left in the third quarter.
Ibaka managed to deliver 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. “We were passing the ball and guys were making shots.”
“They went on a little run there. So I just wanted to stick with what we were doing. It started to open —- that gave me some opportunities to make some shots,” Durant said.