Thunder, Clippers head back to OKC for Game 5
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers are knotted 2-2 in their Western Conference semifinals series and return to Chesapeake Energy Arena for Game 5 Tuesday night.
The Clippers evened the series Sunday afternoon thanks to a furious rally in the fourth quarter. LA trailed Oklahoma City by 22 points nine minutes into the game and by 16 in the early stages of the fourth before Darren Collison spearheaded a stunning comeback that gave Los Angeles a 101-99 victory.
The turnaround was sealed when Russell Westbrook missed a 3-point try at the buzzer.
Collison scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter. Blake Griffin played the final 8:44 with five fouls and scored 10 of his 25 points down the stretch for a Clippers team that made 13 of its last 16 shots.
Chris Paul finished with 23 points, 10 assists and just one turnover for Los Angeles, which surrendered 40 points to Kevin Durant but forced the league MVP into eight of his team's 16 turnovers.
"We had to score and get stops, and we did that," Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. "It's now a three-game series."
Westbrook totaled 27 points and eight assists in a setback that seemed far from the realm of possibility when the Thunder led by 16 three minutes into the final quarter.
The Clippers, who were shooting 33.8 percent from the floor until that point, converted on six straight trips during a 12-2 run to pull within 84-78 with over six minutes to play.
Westbrook later rattled in an elbow jumper for a seven-point Oklahoma City lead, but six consecutive Clippers points capped by Collison's dunk off a Durant giveaway suddenly made it a 90-89 game.
"We finally made a lot of defensive plays that got our offense going," Collison said.
Griffin's three-point play tied it, 94-94, with 1:50 remaining, and Jamal Crawford's 3-pointer the next time down gave LA its first lead at 97-95.
Westbrook countered with a quick tying two, but it was his former UCLA teammate who came up with the deciding buckets.
First, Collison pumped-faked Durant into leaving the entire left side of the court open for an easy go-ahead layup. Then, after a Westbrook miss, Collison got behind the defense for an uncontested layup and a 101-97 Clippers lead with just 32.8 seconds showing.
A Westbrook basket out of a timeout followed by a Griffin miss gave the Thunder one final shot, but Westbrook's try from several feet behind the 3- point line drew iron, sending the Staples Center crowd into celebration.
"I had a good look, but it didn't go in," Westbrook said. "It's a tough loss, but its a series. We'll go back home and take care of business."
The Thunder split the first two games in OKC.
"They're seething right now. They had an opportunity to go up 3-1 and now it's an even series," said Rivers.
"We still have a great opportunity," Thunder coach Scott Brooks explained. "We're at home and the series is tied. We knew going into the series that they're a very good basketball team just like us. We know it's going to be very competitive. Both teams are very good, it's evenly matched and there's a reason why it is 2-2. It's back to our home floor, where we feel very confident."
Game 6 will be Thursday night at the Staples Center.
05/13 10:08:24 ET