Thunder Duo Takes Control of Series

Russell Westbrook brought the Thunder back from a 13 point deficit.

Kevin Durant snapped a tie with 13 seconds left by draining the biggest shot of the series.

Durant’s 3-pointer, in the face of Ron Artest, proved to be the game winning bucket during a 101-98 victory in Los Angeles and clinched a 3-1 series advantage for Oklahoma City.

The Thunder have an opportunity to close out the series Monday night at home, where it has won all four contests this post season.

The win also erased a 15-game losing streak on the road against the Lakers in the post season for the franchise.

The Lakers had established its dominance up front, scoring 48 points in the paint and doubled up Oklahoma City on the offensive glass but as Kobe Bryant went cold in the fourth quarter, Los Angeles couldn’t prevent another comeback.

For the third time this post season, Durant sank a game winner for the Thunder.

Even a 38 point outburst from Bryant, wasn’t enough to overcome Oklahoma City’s All-Star duo.

Following a five turnover performance in his playoff debut this year, Westbrook continued to take care of the ball, committing just one turnover in 43 minutes of play.

After closing out the regular season with the third most turnovers in the league and averaging 3.6 per game, Westbrook has committed just 1.6 through eight post season games.

Kevin Durant's 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining clinched Game 4 for the Thunder.

The 23-year-old point guard finished with 37 points, his highest scoring total of the post season, five assists and a steal.

Saturday marked the ninth time Durant scored 30 or more points in a post season game, as he totaled 31 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.

Durant continued his deadly 3-point shooting during the playoffs, raising his shooting percentage from beyond the arc to 37.2 percent with a 3-for-4 effort in Game 4.

In all eight post season games, Durant has connected at least once from downtown.

The Thunder improved to 7-3 when Durant and Westbrook each score 30 or more points this season and marked the fourth time they accomplished the feat in post season play.

Westbrook and Durant became the first teammates to each score over 30 points in a road playoff win since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen led Chicago to a win in Los Angeles during Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals.

In his return home, former UCLA standout Westbrook brought his team back into the contest by staging a personal 7-2 run, slicing the Lakers lead to four with 4:15 remaining.

From there, Durant took over.

The three-time scoring champion scored the next four points in the game it force a tie at 96.

A tip-in from Kendrick Perkins gave the Thunder its first lead of the second half. Following a pair of free throws from Bryant, as he connected on 14-of-17 attempts after sinking each of his 18 foul shots during a win in Game 3, the Thunder turned to Durant.

As the shot clock ticked down to five, Durant elevated from 25-feet away and launched a perfect jumper, even with a defender putting a hand in his face.

The ball hit the back of the rim as it sank through the net, and his shot was the most important shot during a 25-9 run to close the game.

Ten points in the fourth quarter from Russell Westbrook fueled a comeback for Oklahoma City.

Westbrook connected on 4-of-5 attempts in the fourth, Durant sank 2-of-3 attempts while Bryant connected on 2-of-10 field goals over the final 12 minutes.

All that was left for Los Angeles after the game was to point fingers at each other.

Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol combined for just eight points in the second half and Bryant was finished with eight rebounds, the second highest total on the team.

After the game, Bryant pleaded for Gasol to be more assertive on the offensive end, as he has topped 20 points just once in the playoffs.

While Los Angeles is still looking for unity among its stars, the Thunder have found a perfect balance among its key players.

James Harden managed just 12 points, his lowest output during the Western Conference semifinals, but the 68 combined points from Durant and Westbrook filled any void.

Just one win away from a return trip to the conference finals, the Thunder is playing its best basketball while Los Angeles is still searching for answers.

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About Brendan Galella

Brendan Galella founded Shatter the Glass to make the NBA even more accessible to basketball fans. Composing player rankings, team evaluations and intriguing observations, he hopes to turn every reader into a dedicated and educated basketball follower.
This entry was posted in Featured Stories, Player Profiles, Western Conference and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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