Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) handles the ball against Los Angeles Clippers forward Glen Davis (0) during the fourth quarter in game five of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. (USA TODAY Sports: Mark D. Smith)
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant said his team needed to turn the page on its Game 4 collapse. Heading into Game 5 of its Western Conference semifinal series with the Los Angeles Clippers, that was all anybody wanted to talk about.
However, for more than three quarters, Durant played as if his mind was still back in the previous contest, a 101-99 Clippers win. But in the final 49 seconds, he and guard Russell Westbrook, who led all scorers with 38 points Tuesday, turned their game up a notch, scoring the game’s last eight points to win 105-104 and take a 3-2 series lead.
Game 6 is Thursday in Los Angeles.
“Faith,” Westbrook said. “We just did a good job of staying together. We kept chipping away and playing together.”
Despite forward Durant’s off night by his lofty standards — 27 points on just 6-for-22 shooting — the Thunder kept fighting back with chances to take the lead in the fourth.
“There was definitely frustration,” Durant said. “I just tried to stick with it. Russ carried us the whole game. Put me in position to go out there and it those shots and to win the game.”
But each time the Thunder got within range, it seemed like Clippers reserve guard Jamal Crawford had an answer. Whether it was a jump shot or drive to the basket, the shot maker became a momentum stopper. That included draining a 3-pointer to push the lead to 101-88 with less than four minutes left in the game.
Westbrook and Durant made back-to-back jumpers to cut lead to eight points with 3:19 on the clock. Durant then knocked down a pair of free throws and guard Reggie Jackson got a breakaway layup to get Oklahoma City within four.
The Clippers went to forward Blake Griffin, who was fouled on a drive. He made the first but missed the second free throw attempts. However, Los Angeles got the rebound and guard Chris Paul made the Thunder pay with a jumper with 49 seconds on the clock.
Durant then scored five straight to get the Thunder within two points before Westbrook stole the ball from Paul and passed it to Jackson for a layup attempt. It was knocked out of bounds. The ball stayed with the Thunder, a call Clippers coach Doc Rivers didn’t agree with.
“It was our ball,” Rivers said. “Everybody knows it was our ball. The bottom line is they thought it was a foul and they made up for it. In my opinion, let’s take away the replay system. Because that’s our ball, we win the game. We got robbed because of that call.”
Los Angeles compounded the problem when Paul fouled Westbrook on a 3-point attempt. Westbrook made all three to give Oklahoma City a one point advantage with six seconds left.
The Clippers still had a chance to steal the victory and got the ball to Paul. He drove to the basket, but Jackson deflected it and forward Serge Ibaka came up with the steal to seal the win.
“Probably the toughest thing I’ve been through basketball wise,” Paul said. “It’s me. Everything that happened there at the end is on me. The turnover with 17 seconds left; assuming they are going to foul is probably the dumbest play I’ve ever made. Then to even put it in the official’s hand to call a foul on a 3, is just bad basketball.”
Griffin led the Clippers with 24 points and 17 rebounds. Paul added 17 points and 14 assists. Crawford came off the bench to score 19.
“This is one of the most amazing games that you can possibly be a part of,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “Amazing, 18,000 plus fans and our 15 guys locked in, found a way to just get it done. Whatever it takes, just get it done. We did that tonight.”