THE LEAD: Newly minted Kia MVP Kevin Durant almost had a triple-double and his running mate, Russell Westbrook did. Together they scored 63 points in leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 112-101 win over the Los Angeles Clippers and even up their second round playoff series at 1-1.
Durant led all scorers with 32 points while grabbing 12 rebounds and handing out nine assists. Westbrook dropped in 31 points on 13-for-22 shooting. He also had 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the 12th triple-double of his career.
The Clippers had six players in double figures led by J.J. Redick‘s 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting. Chris Paul was coming off a 32-point game on Monday night and ended up with just more than half that with 17 points. He also handed out 11 assists. Blake Griffin was held to 15 points on 5-for-13 shooting. CenterDeAndre Jordan got into foul trouble and was held to just seven points and three turnovers.
As big a night as Durant and Westbrook had Thabo Sefolosha had a huge impact in the third quarter with both his defense and his offense. Sefolosha scored 14 points, 12 of them in the third quarter, and he made life difficult for the Clippers’ shooters with some stout defense.
QUOTABLE: “They did what Scotty (Brooks) said they were gonna, they made us feel them. They were much more physical. We weren’t there physically and maybe not mentally either. We just didn’t have it tonight, or maybe they (the Thunder) just took it.”
— Clippers coach Doc Rivers
THE STAT: In the third quarter Sefolosha scored 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting, including 2-for-2 from beyond the arc. He also had two steals and a couple of deflections. His defense on Redick limited the Clipper guard to just two points in the quarter.
TURNING POINT: In the third quarter the Thunder held the Clippers to just 21 points while forcing six turnovers. Meanwhile the Thunder scored 33, turning a five-point halftime lead into a 17-point cushion heading into the fourth quarter.
QUOTABLE II: “Our defense did a good job of competing on every possession. Thabo gave us a good defensive presence in the second half and he hit some shots. But his defense in the third quarter really gave us the spark we needed.”
— Thunder coach Scott Brooks
QUOTABLE III: “They were really aggressive. Russ played harder than all of us combined, we’ve just gotta be better. It’s hard enough to guard him (Westbrook) as it is and tonight we didn’t play like ourselves, but we’ll be ready for Game 3.”
— Chris Paul
HOT: The Clippers hit seven of their first nine shots (77.8 percent) and were 4-for-4 on 3s. … Durant was 6-for-7 (15 points) in the first 7:30 of the game. … OKC finished the quarter shooting 64.0 percent (16-for-25) and LAC was 11-for-19 (57.9 percent). … Redick was 4-for-4 (10 points) in the first.
NOT: The Clippers had three rebounds in the first quarter. … Crawford was 1-for-6 (two points) in the first half and finished 2-for-13 (seven points).
INSIDE THE ARENA: The 161st consecutive sellout inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. Fans came to their feet early when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver officially presented Durant with the Kia NBA MVP Award. Among the 18,203 fans watching were NFL Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, who grew up in in Henrietta, Okla., music superstar Jay-Z and NBA superfan Jimmy Goldstein.
GOOD MOVE: The Thunder came out with a lot more energy and zipped out to an 11-point lead. They were determined to start better than Monday night and they did. Even though the Clippers shot a high percentage again in the early going, the OKC defense was much more active and the Clippers just hit some tough shots. The Thunder defense got even more aggressive in the third quarter.
BAD MOVE: Durant was 7-for-11 (17 points) in the first quarter but wasn’t involved much in the OKC offense in the second quarter. During a stretch of 12 possessions KD touched the ball once. He ended the quarter credited with one shot but he did get to the free throw line four times.
ROOKIE WATCH: Thunder center Steven Adams played 17 minutes, scoring six points on 3-for-4 shooting and grabbing five rebounds.
NOTABLE: Severe thunderstorms rolling through Oklahoma City just after the final horn sent some water into the arena, there were some leaks from the roof from torrential rains and a small tornado may have touched down a few miles south blowing over trees and power lines. A power surge took out some of the arena’s lights with 27.2 seconds left in the first half, but the coaches decided to finish out the half with the dimmed lighting.
UP NEXT: Friday, Game 3 @ Los Angeles; Sunday, Game 4 @ Los Angeles; Tuesday, Game 5 @ Oklahoma City.