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Thunder 112, Clippers 101

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Forward Kevin Durant scored 32 points and guard Russell Westbrook racked up a triple-double, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 112-101 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series is tied 1-1 as it heads to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Friday.

Westbrook scored 31 points, handed out 10 assists and grabbed 10 rebounds for his third triple-double of the postseason. Fresh off collecting the league’s MVP award, Durant was one assist shy of a triple-double, as has he tallied 12 rebounds and nine assists.

Oklahoma City guard Thabo Sefolosha scored 12 of his 14 points in the third period, when the Thunder pulled away.

Guard J.J. Redick led the Clippers with 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting. Point guard Chris Paul added 17 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and three steals. Forward Blake Griffin added 15 points and six rebounds.

If Durant had any emotional hangover from getting the MVP, it didn’t show when the game started. He came out firing and poured in 17 first-quarter points on 7-of-11 shooting. Even when the Clippers started double-teaming him, he stayed aggressive and drove to the basket.

Westbrook added 10 points in the opening period as Oklahoma City opened a 37-28 advantage.

However, the Thunder had no answer for Redick. Sefolosha was inserted back into the starting lineup to contain the free-shooting guard. That didn’t last long, as Thunder coach Scott Brooks was forced to try guard Derek Fisher on Redick, then Durant.

After a brief delay due to the lights dimming, the Thunder went into halftime leading 61-56.

Oklahoma City turned to its defense coming out of halftime. Led by the inspired play of Sefolosha, the Thunder had Los Angeles back on its heels.

In one sequence, the Thunder forced three consecutive turnovers and scored each time. The stretch include two steals by Sefolosha that led to a Sefolosha breakaway dunk and a Westbrook 3-pointer.

More important, Sefolosha held Redick to two points in the quarter, and the Thunder led 94-77 entering the fourth.

NOTES: A day after being officially selected the NBA’s MVP, Oklahoma City F Kevin Durant was presented the award again before the start of Game 2 in front of fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The ceremony brought back memories to Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “I had a bad ceremony when I was in San Antonio, if everyone remembers back when I played 100 years ago,” Rivers said. “David Robinson, who is the most gracious human being alive, he thanked all the other guys who were nominated except the guy in the gym, Hakeem Olajuwon. To this day, (Clyde) Drexler says that was when Olajuwon started that incredible roll and was spurred on by that.” … Oklahoma City G Russell Westbrook responded to criticism he gets from the media over such as leaving his team’s huddle during timeouts. “A lot of things I do look worse than it is,” Westbrook said. “Think I worried about that? Hell nah.” … Since Thunder coach Scott Brooks comes from a single-parent household, he said the most memorable part about Durant’s MVP speech Tuesday dealt with Durant’s mother. “That’s what hit me the most yesterday,” Brooks said. “I’m going back, and my mom’s birthday was a couple of days ago. So that’s obviously very emotional for me.” Brooks’ mother died in January 2013.

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

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