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Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant takes control to give OKC a series-clinching win

Kevin Durant scored a game-high 39 points with 16 rebounds and five assists in 44 minutes to lead the Thunder to a 104-98 series-clinching win over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 6 on Thursday night inside the Staples Center.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 16, 2014


photo - Los Angeles' Matt Barnes (22) defends Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (35) during Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals in the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, May 15, 2014. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Los Angeles' Matt Barnes (22) defends Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (35) during Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals in the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, May 15, 2014. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

— Something about Game 6 brings the best out of Kevin Durant.

When his team has needed it most this postseason, Durant has delivered late in each of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first two series.

He scored a game-high 39 points with 16 rebounds and five assists in 44 minutes to lead the Thunder to a 104-98 series-clinching win over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 6 on Thursday night inside the Staples Center.

Oklahoma City now moves on to face San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals. It’s a rematch of the 2012 Western Conference Finals. The Thunder won that series in six before losing to Miami in the NBA Finals.

Much has happened since, most notably a fan favorite’s disappointing departure and a devastating knee injury to Russell Westbrook that derailed the Thunder’s run last year.

It’s been a long two years. But the Thunder is finally back.

Game 1 is Monday in San Antonio.

The Thunder showed incredible mental toughness to get back to the final four, first battling Memphis for seven hard-fought games in round one and then halting a high-powered Clippers team that appears to be on the verge of becoming a conference power.

OKC overcame a 16-point, first-half deficit in Thursday’s closeout game and an off shooting night by Russell Westbrook, who was the team’s hero in Game 5. Westbrook finished with a determined 19 points and 12 assists but made just 4 of 15 shots.

The Thunder’s bench, led by Steven Adams, chipped in beautifully and outscored the Clippers’ reserves, 35-17, to offset Westbrook’s early struggles.

But it was Durant who hurt the Clippers most.

He shook off a slow start that looked reminiscent of his shooting struggles in Game 5 and finished 12-for-23 from the floor, including a 5-for-8 clip from 3-point range. He made all 10 of his free throws.

Durant poured in 25 points on 8-for-11 shooting in the second half.

When the Thunder faced elimination in Game 6 against the Grizzlies, Durant also rose to the occasion and scored 36 points with 10 rebounds.

The Thunder needed every bit of it from Durant to hold off a resilient Clippers squad that showed no signs of a hangover from Game 5, when they blew a 13-point lead with four minutes remaining.

L.A. lit up the scoreboard early, making seven of their first 12 shots and assisting each other on all seven makes. They scored in transition, at the rim and from behind the 3-point line to jump to an 18-8 lead.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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