Under pressure, the Oklahoma City Thunder responded with a convincing 112-102 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.
Following a couple emotional days in which Durant was presented with the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award twice, the Oklahoma City Thunder forward started Game2 by displaying precisely the skill and ability that earned him the coveted individual honor.
After losing the series opener, the Thunder required a win to give themselves a true shot in the series. The next two games will be in Los Angeles, so the Thunder needed a win in Game 2 to set the stage for an exciting Western Conference Semifinals.
After addressing the crowd and accepting his award from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver at center court, Durant poured in 17 points on 7-11 shooting from the field in the first quarter.
The Clippers punched back, but the Thunder’s offense was unstoppable in the early going. Durant and company recorded 37 points in the first 12 minutes and carried a nine-point lead into the second quarter.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who was the runaway star in Game 1, picked up a couple early fouls and sat on the bench watching his team getting overrun on the court.
Along with Durant, Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook started hot and made five of his first six shots. Westbrook energized the crowd throughout the night, especially with a couple monstrous dunks
Paul managed to stay out of foul trouble in the second quarter—partly due to some questionable no-calls—and led his team back into the game. The Clippers even got a brief glimpse of the lead before the Thunder carried a 61-56 advantage into the halftime break.
In the second half, however, Durant and Westbrook hit a higher gear to change the complexion of the game. Over the final six minutes and 15 seconds of the third quarter, Westbrook charged the Thunder into overdrive and turned the game from a competitive eight-point contest to a 20-point blowout.
By the time the third quarter concluded, Westbrook and Durant had combined for 53 points, and the Thunder led 94-77. In the final quarter, the Clippers would make a couple runs, but the Thunder answered and never let the visitors cut the lead to single digits.
When the final buzzer sounded, both Durant and Westbrook had nights to remember. Durant finished with 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. Westbrook would finish with a nearly identical 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists—although the final assist was under review.
Tied at 1-1, the series now shifts to Staples Center for the next two games. Game 3 will be on Friday night.