Wed, Jun 06, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Thunder eye finals after three straight wins

AFP, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook dunks against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half of Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals in San Antonio, Texas, on Monday.

Photo: Reuters

The Oklahoma City Thunder are on the verge of reaching the NBA finals after beating the San Antonio Spurs 108-103 with 27 points from Kevin Durant in Game 5 of their Western Conference Finals series.

Oklahoma City lost the first two games, but they have stormed back to win three straight and now lead the Spurs in the best-of-seven series.

The Thunder can wrap up the series with a win in Game 6 today in Oklahoma City.

“We never thought we’re supposed to wait our turn,” Durant said. “Coach always emphasizes that with every opportunity that you step on the floor. It’s a great opportunity to get better, to get to our dream.”

Durant scored 22 of his points in the second half, while Russell Westbrook finished with 23 points and 12 assists for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are trying to advance to the franchise’s first NBA Finals since 1996.

James Harden drained a key three-pointer with 28 seconds left and the Thunder held on for the win. Harden scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter.

“The shot clock was running down and I had to make a play,” Harden said. “[Kawhi] Leonard was playing great defense on me. I just shot it with confidence. West Conference Finals — that’s a big shot.”

Durant nailed a pair of free throws with 0.8 seconds remaining to seal the victory.

Durant was also the hero of Game 4, scoring 36 points in the fourth quarter after the Thunder snapped the Spurs’ 20 game winning streak dating back to the regular season.

“That was a total team effort,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Everybody did their job. I thought we played as hard as we can play.”

The Thunder are seeking to become the 15th team in NBA history to overcome a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series. The Spurs were the last team to do it when they rallied to beat the New Orleans Hornets in the Western Conference semi-finals four years ago after trailing 2-0.

Manu Ginobili had a game-high 34 points, while Tim Duncan finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs, who have now lost three straight games for the first time this season.

San Antonio are the first team to lose a home game in the series and it is a tall order for the Spurs to try and come back against a younger and more athletic Thunder team.

During the lockout-shortened regular season, San Antonio won two games and lost once to the Thunder. Oklahoma City beat the Spurs 108-96 in their first meeting of the season in January. The Spurs won the next two, 107-96 and 114-105.

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