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More shooting woes for Thunder

BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Modified: April 28, 2011 at 1:16 am •  Published: April 27, 2011

/articleid/3562808/1/pictures/1404311">Photo - Oklahoma City's James Harden (13) is fouled by Denver's Wilson Chandler (21) during the NBA basketball game between the Denver Nuggets and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the NBA playoffs at the Oklahoma City Arena, Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's James Harden (13) is fouled by Denver's Wilson Chandler (21) during the NBA basketball game between the Denver Nuggets and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the NBA playoffs at the Oklahoma City Arena, Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
/> The franchise low for playoff field-goal percentage is 31.8 percent by the Seattle SuperSonics in 1995.

It took late-game heroics from All-Star Kevin Durant for all this futility to turn into victory, as the Thunder closed with an 18-6 run to eliminate the Denver Nuggets 100-97 inside Oklahoma City Arena.

Durant, who shot 14 for 27 from the field and finished with 41 points, wound up being the only OKC player to shoot 50 percent or better, and he had to hit five of his last six shots to do it.

The Thunder finished at 36.6 percent for the game, only slightly better than the all-time franchise low of 34.0 percent in a playoff victory.

After Durant, the next best stat line for the Thunder might have been turned in by forward Serge Ibaka, who didn't make a field goal, but blocked nine shots and had eight rebounds.

Ibaka finished eighth in the league in field-goal percentage during the regular season at 54.3 percent, but on this night went 0 for 4 in 35 minutes of playing time.

OKC's triumph came despite the continued struggles of point guard Russell Westbrook, who shot a combined 15 for 45 (.333) from the field in the last two games of the series.

He was 3 for 15 from the floor in Game 5 and 12 for 30 in Game 4.

With 8:35 remaining in the game and the Thunder trailing 83-76, a stone-faced Westbrook checked into the game during a timeout and glared into the crowd behind the scorer's table as several fans screamed, "Come on, Russ."

Westbrook aggressively slammed his hands together once, cursed himself and walked onto the court.

With 8:11 left and the shot clock winding down, Westbrook swished a rainbow 3-pointer from the right wing to pull OKC to within 83-79 and the sellout crowd of 18,203 exploded.

The conversion snapped his string of 12 straight missed 3-pointers after starting the series 6 for 10 beyond the arc.

For the remainder of the game, amazingly the only player other than Durant to convert a field goal was guard James Harden, who drilled a 3-pointer while buried deep in the corner with 1:50 left to tie the score at 91.

The Thunder shot worse than 36.6 percent three times this season and lost convincingly each time – a 99-90 loss at Chicago (.354); a 101-74 loss at San Antonio (.329); and a 111-88 loss at Orlando (.333).


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