Thunder oust Lakers as Celtics edge ahead
AP May 23, 2012, 3:30 pm TWN
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant scored 53 points between them as the Oklahoma City Thunder surged ahead in the second half and beat Los Angeles 106-90 in Game 5 on Monday, eliminating the Lakers from the NBA playoffs.
Westbrook scored 28 points, while Durant added 25 and 10 rebounds. The two All-Stars both bypassed their breaks in the second half and used the time they'd normally be resting to fuel the big run that put away the game and end the Lakers' season.
Westbrook had a pair of three-point plays during a 14-3 burst that put Oklahoma City ahead to stay late in the third quarter, and Durant hit two 3-pointers as the Thunder scored the first 10 points of the fourth to push their lead to 93-77.
Kobe Bryant played almost a lone hand for the Lakers, scoring 42 points.
The Thunder will open the Western Conference finals on Sunday at top-seeded San Antonio.
Oklahoma City was eliminated from the playoffs by Los Angeles in 2010 and Dallas in 2011, with both those teams going on to win the championship. This year, the Thunder have knocked both out on their way to the West finals for the second-straight year.
Their next opponent, the top-seeded Spurs, are the only team other than the Lakers or Mavericks to win the West in the past 13 years and are currently riding an 18-game winning streak.
Westbrook celebrated after scoring the first of his key 3-point plays in the third quarter; running to the scorer's table and pumping his fist in the air after being able to flip the ball in despite Ramon Sessions fouling him on the fast break.
He converted another after banking in a jumper from the left side despite Sessions slapping him on the arm, making it 82-76 with 1:29 left in the third quarter.
Durant extended the lead with a 3-pointer in the opening minute of the fourth and then hit another 32 seconds later — just after Bryant had stepped to the scorer's table to check in after a brief rest.
There was little Bryant could do after he got back in, despite the 13th 40-point game of his playoff career.
Los Angeles' Pau Gasol took 14 shots, his most of the series, but made only five to finish with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest) scored 11 and Andrew Bynum 10.
Celtics 101, 76ers 85 In Boston, Brandon Bass scored 18 points in the third quarter as Boston pulled away from Philadelphia and took a 3-2 edge in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series.
Bass set a postseason career-high of 27 points while Kevin Garnett added 20 points and Rajon Rondo had 13 points and 14 assists for the Celtics, who can advance to the East finals with a victory in Philadelphia in Game 6 on Wednesday. The Sixers would need a win there to force the series back to Boston for a decisive seventh game on Saturday.
Elton Brand scored 19 and Evan Turner had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Philadelphia, which led by six points early in the third quarter before Boston scored 14 of the next 16 points. Bass scored eight of them, including back-to-back dunks followed by a steal that set up Ray Allen's layup and gave the Celtics a 63-57 lead with five minutes left in the quarter.
Boston closed out the third with a 10-2 run over the final 3 minutes and outscored the Sixers 28-16 in the period. The Celtics also scored 16 of the first 22 points in the fourth quarter — seven from Rondo — to seal the game.
Paul Pierce had 16 points — a perfect 9 for 9 from the free throw line — and Allen, back in the starting lineup because of an injury to Avery Bradley, had five points.
The Celtics acquired Bass in December in a trade with Orlando for Glen "Big Baby" Davis, and he worked his way into the starting lineup after the All-Star break. Although he solidified the power forward position after Garnett moved to center, he hadn't done anything spectacular — until Monday.
He left the game to a standing ovation with 2 minutes left and the Celtics leading by 18.
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