On-fire Kevin Durant scores 36 to power Thunder over Spurs
By Jeff Latzke ,AP
June 4, 2012, 12:04 am TWN
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kevin Durant scored 18 of his 36 points in a scintillating final 7 minutes, Serge Ibaka added a career-high 26 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder evened the Western Conference Finals at two games apiece by beating the San Antonio Spurs 109-103 Saturday night.
After seeing his team's 15-point lead dwindle to four, Durant took over midway through the fourth quarter by scoring all 16 of the Thunder's points during a span of just over 5 minutes to keep the Spurs at bay.
With All-Star teammate Russell Westbrook limited to seven points, Durant did almost all of the damage late to send the series back to San Antonio all square for Game 5 on Monday night.
The three-time scoring champion hit three straight jumpers, the last one coming after he bumped into Tony Parker in the lane to draw a foul and set up a three-point play. Then he attacked the rim for his next three baskets, getting to the line again when he was fouled on a layup off of James Harden's alley-oop.
Durant hit another jumper after coming off a Westbrook screen for the last basket in his personal run — and the Spurs were still within striking distance. Rookie Kawhi Leonard bracketed a pair of 3-pointers around that Durant jumper, and the Spurs were only down 102-96 with 1:24 left.
The Spurs succeeded in getting the ball out of Durant's hands on the next possession, only for him to provide the assist on Harden's 3-pointer from the left wing that bumped the lead to nine.
Durant hit two free throws in the final minute to help close it out.
Oklahoma City is trying to become the 15th team in NBA history to overcome an 0-2 deficit in a seven-game series, and the eighth to do it since 2004. The Thunder avoided an even trickier task by winning.
Only eight teams have ever overcome a 3-1 hole, and only two had done it while needing two wins on the road — the 1995 Rockets and 1968 Celtics.
Tim Duncan had 21 points for San Antonio, which had won 20 in a row before losing Game 3. Leonard added 17 points and nine rebounds.