Durant leads Thunder to defeat the Grizzlies
AFP Monday, April 21, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kevin Durant scored 33 points on Saturday to lead Oklahoma City to a 100-86 triumph over Memphis in game one of their NBA Western Conference playoff series.
Durant connected on five of six shots from the field as he delivered 13 points in the fourth quarter, when the Thunder thwarted the Grizzlies' comeback bid and took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Oklahoma City had dominated the first half and led by 22 at halftime.
But their lead dwindled to just two points, 74-72, after Mike Miller's three-pointer with 8:46 left in the game.
Durant — front runner for the league's Most Valuable Player award — found Serge Ibaka under the basket for a three-point play on the other end to spark a 13-1 scoring run that let the Thunder rebuild a more comfortable cushion.
"I just wanted to be aggressive," Durant said. "They hit us pretty hard in that third quarter, so we needed some points."
Russell Westbrook added 23 points, 10 rebounds and five assists and Ibaka had 17 points, nine rebounds and four blocks in the win.
Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol finished with 16 points apiece.
It's the third time in four seasons that the Thunder and Grizzlies are meeting in the playoffs.
Oklahoma City ousted Memphis in the second round following the 2010-11 season, but the Grizzlies eliminated the Thunder in the Western Conference semi-finals last season.
While the Thunder were able to hold off a Memphis team that nearly turned the tide with a 31-13 scoring edge in the third quarter, the Los Angeles Clippers couldn't do the same against the Golden State Warriors.
Tremendous Competitive Spirit
The Warriors overcame 21 turnovers to edge the Clippers 109-105 in their series opener and snatch home court advantage.
Klay Thompson scored 22 points and pulled down seven rebounds for the Oakland-based Warriors.
David Lee added 20 points for the Warriors and Stephen Curry added 20.
The game was tied 52-52 at halftime, but the sixth-seeded Warriors outscored the Clippers 35-27 in the third quarter and led by as many as 11 in the fourth period.
The Clippers clawed their way back, with two three-pointers from All-Star point guard Chris Paul knotting the score at 102-102 with less than three minutes to play.
But Paul, an 86 percent career free-throw shooter, missed two crucial foul shots in the closing stretch as the Warriors held on for the victory.
"I'm proud of my guys," said Warriors coach Mark Jackson, whose team regrouped after falling 11 adrift in the opening quarter. "We're not going to quit, we're going to battle.
"We just had a tremendous will and a tremendous competitive spirit tonight. Big-time game-one victory, but this series is far from over."
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said dropping the opening game at home was disappointing — but not a death blow in a best-of-seven series.
"Listen, you'd love to win all your home games. But if you don't, you don't," Rivers said. "So we have to win a game on the road now."
Both teams had players in foul trouble, but it was especially costly for the Clippers who saw both Paul and Blake Griffin limited, Griffin fouling out with 48 seconds remaining.
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