LOS ANGELES — Forward Kevin Durant scored 36 points, grabbed eight rebounds and handed out six assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 118-112 in Game 3 of this Western Conference semifinal series Friday night before a sellout crowd of 19,530 at Staples Center.
The win gave the Thunder a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is Sunday at Staples.
Point guard Russell Westbrook scored 23 points and dished out 13 assists for the Thunder. Westbrook also had eight rebounds, just missing his fourth triple-double of the playoffs.
Forward Blake Griffin scored 34 points, pulled down eight rebounds and had three blocks for the Clippers, who lost for the first time in 36 games at home when they carried a lead into the fourth quarter. Point guard Chris Paul had 21 points and 16 assists for Los Angeles, while guard Jamal Crawford came off the bench to score 20 points.
Oklahoma City held a 106-101 lead with four minutes remaining in the game after a put-back dunk by forward Serge Ibaka, who finished with 20 points and six rebounds.
Griffin cut the Thunder’s lead to 108-107 with a bucket inside with 2:23 remaining, but a 3-pointer by Westbrook and a jumper by Durant gave Oklahoma City a 113-107 advantage with 1:23 left. That was too much for Los Angeles to overcome.
The Clippers carried a 90-86 lead into the fourth quarter after Crawford converted three free throws after being fouled by Durant on a 44-foot attempt to end the third quarter.
A 3-pointer by Paul, who had 14 points and eight assists in the first half, with 4.5 seconds remaining gave Los Angeles a 63-61 lead at the break. Durant led all scorers in the first half with 21 points, while Griffin had 16.
Both teams shot well from the free throw line, with the Thunder converting 24 of 28 attempts (85.7 percent) compared to 21 of 24 (84 percent) for the Clippers. Oklahoma City outshot Los Angeles from the floor 55.7 percent to 45.2 percent.
The Thunder had a 44-33 edge on the boards, the third straight game they have outrebounded the Clippers.
NOTES: Clippers G Jamal Crawford received his NBA Sixth Man of the Year trophy before the game. … Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said he spoke earlier Friday with new Clippers CEO Dick Parsons and was pleased with the conversation. … Shelly Sterling, wife of banned Clippers owner Donald, watched the game from a suite. … Oklahoma City outrebounded Los Angeles 99-67 in the first two games of the series. “Our guards have to rebound,” Rivers said. “Their guards destroyed us (rebounding).”… Thunder coach Scott Brooks said defending Clippers F Blake Griffin, who was limited to 15 points and six rebounds in Game 2, will be pivotal in Game 3. “We have to continue sending a bunch of bodies at him,” Brooks said. … Los Angeles committed only two turnovers in the first half compared to eight for Oklahoma City.
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