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Clippers 101, Thunder 99

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LOS ANGELES — Despite 40 points from Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, the Los Angeles Clippers used a fourth-quarter rally for a 101-99 victory over the Thunder in Game 4 of this Western Conference semifinal series before a sellout crowd of 19,365 at Staples Center on Sunday.

Reserve guard Darren Collison’s layup with 32 seconds remaining in the game was the difference and allowed the Clippers to even the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

Game 5 is Tuesday in Oklahoma City.

The Thunder, who led by as much as 22 in the first half, blew a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter. Guard Russell Westbrook missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have won it for the Thunder.

Oklahoma City carried a 75-63 lead into the fourth quarter, but Clippers guards Chris Paul and Darren Collison, who had 12 points in the final period and 18 overall, led the comeback for Los Angeles.

The Clippers sliced the deficit to 90-89 on a dunk by Collison with 2:57 left. They tied the score at 94 on a three-point play by Griffin with 1:50 remaining. Durant gave the Thunder a 95-94 lead with a free throw before guard Jamal Crawford’s 3-pointer gave the Clippers the lead.

Westbrook, who finished with 27 points, tied the score again at 97, but Collison gave the Clippers the lead for good with another basket with 59 seconds left.

Griffin led the Clippers with 25 points and pulled down nine rebounds, while Paul finished with 23 points and 10 assists. Crawford scored 18 points.

The Thunder roared out to a 29-7 lead after Westbrook scored on a drive with 3:10 left in the first quarter. They led 32-15 at the end of the first quarter as Westbrook (11 points) and Durant (12 points) combined to outscore the Clippers.

Los Angeles missed 13 of its 15 shots to open the game, while Oklahoma City hit its first seven.

But the Clippers rallied in the second quarter, opening with a 20-3 spurt to cut Oklahoma City’s lead to 39-35 after two free throws by Crawford with 6:16 remaining. However, the Thunder increased the margin to 57-46 at intermission.

NOTES: Thunder coach Scott Brooks showed a sense of humor when asked if F Kevin Durant’s MVP speech inspired the team’s improved play against the Clippers. “Something that was a little overlooked during that speech was I wasn’t given enough credit for being the speech writer,” Brooks said. … The Thunder outrebounded the Clippers by double digits in all three previous games, averaging more than 14 more boards per outing. … Thunder reserve G Reggie Jackson averaged 14 points in four road playoff games entering Sunday’s contest. … Clippers C DeAndre Jordan, the league’s No. 2 rebounder in the regular season at 13 boards per game, was managing eight per contest against Oklahoma City. … Both teams entered Game 4 scoring 111.7 points per game in the series. … The Thunder connected on 5-of-8 from behind the 3-point arc in the first period compared to 0-for-8 for the Clippers.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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