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Thunder advances to Western Conference Finals with Game 7 win over Grizzlies

BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, Modified: May 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm •  Published: May 15, 2011

As the teams exchanged post-series handshakes, players from both sides looked exhausted. Even both coaching staffs hugged it out. “They deserved to win,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said of the Thunder. “They are an outstanding young team, well-coached and they earned this series. It was a hard-fought series like I thought it would be.”

The series-clincher came compliments of Durant, Westbrook, Collison and Harden.

Durant had 39 points, nine assists, went 9 for 9 from the free-throw line, buried four 3-pointers, blocked three shots and made 11 of his last 16 attempts from the field.

Westbrook had 14 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds for the first Game 7 triple-double since Chicago's Scottie Pippen in the semifinals against New York in 1992.

Collison had 12 rebounds, eight points and three blocked shots. Far more important, he contained potential collateral damage by defending Memphis power forward Zach Randolph, who somehow still managed 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Hollins declared Harden and Collison as the key players in the series. “When we were able to control them a little bit, we had success,” Hollins said. “When we didn't, Oklahoma City had success.”

On Sunday, the Grizzlies didn't.

“Everybody that's been around James, you've seen the development the last two years,” Brooks said of Harden. “His confidence is at an all-time high. His teammates believe in him. He knows his coaching staff believes in him. But he comes in and he just provides.

“He provides an extra ballhandler, an extra playmaker. He's a terrific shooter. He can make threes. He can attack the basket and get to the free-throw line. He's a big part of our success that he's had this series. He's just a great worker.”

John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. Postgame Thoughts: What did you think? Box Score: Thunder wins 105-90

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