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Too much Kevin Durant, MVP leads Thunder past Clippers to Conference Finals

May 16, 2014, 3:26 AM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Six Getty Images

It was a game about poise.

The Clippers showed a lot of it to start the game. Two days after a devastating loss the Clippers showed the growth and maturity Doc Rivers has been trying to instill since he walked in the door — they moved the ball on offense, they defended well (Russell Westbrook started 0-of-4, Kevin Durant 1-of-7) and the Clippers were up 14 in the first quarter. OKC’s offense was stagnant, the Clippers were the ones attacking.

Then Kevin Durant woke up.

Midway through the second quarter, after the Clippers took a mental vacation on defense. Three times in a couple of minutes they left Durant wide open for a three point shot. He hit them, scoring 9 straight. Then it was on

From that point on Durant had 36 points on 11-of-16 shooting, looking every bit the MVP. He even had 16 rebounds. He and the Thunder were the more mature team, looking more like a veteran, battle-tested team.

He carried the Thunder all the way to a 104-98 win over the Clippers.

Oklahoma City takes the series 4-2, moving on to face the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals starting Monday night in San Antonio.

The only question for Oklahoma City is will Serge Ibaka be ready to go for that game — he left the game less than five minutes into the second half with a strained calf and did not return. After the game coach Scott Brooks said he did not know the severity and if Ibaka would be able to go on Monday.

If Durant plays like this, it may not matter. Once the Clippers let him get his rhythm there was no stopping his offense. He rained down jumpers, made moves to the rim, drew a charge on Blake Griffin (who eventually fouled out after a spectacular game) and generally was impressive every time he touched the ball.

Russell Westbrook looked like himself and had 17 of his 19 points on the night after the break, and more importantly he added 12 assists as he shared the rock.

With Ibaka down Scott Brooks played the Steven Adams/Nick Collison combination together more and it worked well — they defended with strength, both are good passers and both ran the floor. Adams played continued his great run scoring 17 points and pulling down 11 rebounds — more of him and less of Kendrick Perkins is good for the Thunder. We’ll see if Brooks plays more Adams and less Perkins in the next round. Thunder fans hope so.

The Clippers got more and more desperate and for a second straight game made too many mistakes down the stretch. Players said that was less about the Donald Sterling drama (although the weight of that certainly didn’t help them) as much as it was about them not making plays. Doc Rivers signed off on that in his press conference.

“We’re a team in process,” Rivers said.

That process saw 57 wins and a trip to the second round of the playoffs, one where they showed themselves to be on the cusp of being a championship team. In the NBA teams often have to learn how to win and the Clippers look like a team that took big steps down that road this season and in these playoffs.

Those were steps the Thunder had already taken.

When they were down early then again late in the game the Thunder showed more poise, more maturity. They dealt with both adversity and success well in this series.

Those are things they will need a lot of next round against the Spurs.

  1. money2long - May 16, 2014 at 3:41 AM

    The heat don’t like seeing kd and Westbrook advance …

    • antistratfordian - May 16, 2014 at 3:51 AM

      Why not? They don’t have a problem handling those two.

    • rodyaugu - May 16, 2014 at 8:20 AM

      If they heat advance, they would much rather have okc. A team with a below average half-court offense, that’s the kind of offense the heat defense feeds on.

      • rodyaugu - May 16, 2014 at 8:21 AM

        *the

  2. money2long - May 16, 2014 at 3:42 AM

    This series was not a toss up. The clippers were destined to lose.

  3. money2long - May 16, 2014 at 3:47 AM

    I wonder how much of the negative talk about the pacers was masked mumbo jumbo translated into , we really hope someone takes out the pacers before Miami has to play them.

    Time to see what hibbert can do against their front line.

    We r going to see a good Paul George this series.
    David west needs to be there in clutch situations.

    Lance has to be the glue.

    Yea in writing this here because this website won’t let me talk about the pacers in the pacers article.
    Anyway. I look forward to seeing the thunder in the finals.

    The heat need to be the heat of they are going to take out the pacers.

    I sure hope wade will be himself for every game against Indiana.
    Whoever advances will lose to the thunder in the finals.

    • money2long - May 16, 2014 at 3:48 AM

      Forgive the autocorrect typos.

      • sportsfan18 - May 16, 2014 at 9:21 AM

        auto correct creates as many typos as it prevents…

        also, one may turn auto correct OFF if they so choose…

      • money2long - May 16, 2014 at 12:09 PM

        Shutup
        Nerd

    • gofinsgoheatfloria - May 16, 2014 at 7:13 AM

      Agreed, some of the anti-Pacer talk was cover for “someone please take out the Pacers so the Heat don’t have to play them” – just as some of the anti-Heat talk was cover for “someone please take out the Heat so the Pacers don’t have to play them”.

      But the negative talk about the Pacers here was not much different from the ongoing talk in the sports pages of the Pacers’ hometown newspaper, the Indianapolis Star, so armchair psychology about the same talk here probably isn’t going to shed much light.

      • realfootballfan - May 16, 2014 at 8:30 PM

        I doubt there’s anything psychological for the team that’s defending the trophy. If you think the regular season matters for the jillionth time, go ask the Nets, Celtics, and Bulls during the Heat’s runs to the Finals. The Pacers cannot beat the Heat 4 times in a week in a half because they don’t score enough.

    • fanofthegame79 - May 16, 2014 at 8:14 AM

      Haslem will shut down Hibbert…and the rest of the Pacers are a little off (way too up and down this post season). Heat will win in 6.

      • sportsfan18 - May 16, 2014 at 9:22 AM

        Hibbert will shut down Hibbert…

      • fanofthegame79 - May 16, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        lol, I won’t argue with you on that!

  4. antistratfordian - May 16, 2014 at 3:50 AM

    Hear that? That’s the sound of Spurs fans shaking in their boots.

    Heat-Thunder Finals. Heat in 5.

    • bucrightoff - May 16, 2014 at 6:52 AM

      Hear that? That’s Heat fans hoping the Thunder take the Spurs out or Spurs in 4 in the Finals.

    • sportsfan18 - May 16, 2014 at 9:24 AM

      The Spurs are a much better basketball TEAM than the Thunder.

      The Thunder are Durant and Westbrook and then…

      KD and Westbrook play well most of the time but they can play poorly from time to time and the overall effectiveness and teamwork of the Spurs will overcome the Thunder…

      • unxpexted1 - May 16, 2014 at 10:43 AM

        The spurs are a better team, but the thunder are a matchup nightmare for the spurs. I saw some state that they are like 10 and 2 against them since the WCF 2 years ago. All about matchups

      • realfootballfan - May 16, 2014 at 8:34 PM

        Yep, said it before, this is the one team the Spurs really don’t match up well against. They could still pull it out, but I doubt it because they have no answer for Westbrook. It’s like had the Clippers won this series, the Spurs would have been the one team they didn’t want to see.

    • azarkhan - May 16, 2014 at 9:40 AM

      I thought it was the sound of a blithering idiot with a grudge against Popovich and the Spurs.

      • antistratfordian - May 16, 2014 at 4:41 PM

        I only said that because before the game yesterday Spurs fans were saying that they hope they get the Clippers instead of the Thunder.

        Why would I have a “grudge” against Pop and the Spurs? I just think they’re overrated.

  5. timcast12 - May 16, 2014 at 3:55 AM

    The Heat are garbage, always will be

  6. ajw21 - May 16, 2014 at 3:59 AM

    My two sense: Spura fan here but will be objective. The Heat would rather play the Thunder then the Spurs and the Thunder have the Spurs number. Matchup wise the Heat are as athletic as the Thunder.
    Spurs play team ball, tougher for Heat then the Thunder. With that said I am a Spurs fan so Spurs beat Thunder in 7 and bring on the Heat!
    Go Spurs.

    • money2long - May 16, 2014 at 4:09 AM

      That’s two more sense than anti has.

    • antistratfordian - May 16, 2014 at 4:17 AM

      You’re right, and I hate to say that because if the Spurs advance I’m going to be reminded of it. The Thunder do not have an advantage against the Heat. They lack any kind of post player. Durant isn’t the best individual player in a series against Miami. Mr. Leonard is actually a pesky defender, unlike Durant. LeBron is actually a pesky defender, unlike Durant. Miami’s bigs would much rather have to deal with Ibaka and Perkins than that one guy… what’s his name? Tim something.

      That said, The Heat can beat both of those clubs.

      • money2long - May 16, 2014 at 6:44 AM

        Yes the heat can beat both those clubs.
        Just like both those clubs can beat the heat.
        It will come down to who gets the lucky plays.
        Shall be a fun finals.

      • gofinsgoheatfloria - May 16, 2014 at 7:21 AM

        It could come down to a key injury too. I hope not (regardless of team) but it could.

    • realfootballfan - May 16, 2014 at 8:36 PM

      Spot on. Heat will roll the Thunder again if they make it past the Spurs, but a match up with the Spurs is a 7 game series for the Heat that could go either way. Good to see somebody being objective on this site.

  7. jshawaii22 - May 16, 2014 at 4:02 AM

    Steven Adams is the STEAL of the last draft. I thought he was a wasted pick… wrong! The kid can ball and shows no fear in the paint. He just needs to learn to finish and he’ll be around for 10+ years.

    js

    • gameisours - May 16, 2014 at 7:22 AM

      Pretty much everything OKC pick turns out to be great

  8. lakerade - May 16, 2014 at 4:28 AM

    So much bluster in the early rounds and it’s all chalk now,1-2 in both conferences. Contenders and pretenders.

    A lot of teams made good strides in these playoffs, the Clippers being the top team out that could win it next year. That said, glad they’re out. Go Lakers.

    Thunder in 6. Pacers in 6.

    • asimonetti88 - May 16, 2014 at 9:37 AM

      Thunder/Pacers would certainly be a fun matchup. I would have to give the edge to the Thunder based on how they have played lately. I would like to see San Antonio move on as well, they have a great offense.

  9. davecotuit - May 16, 2014 at 4:38 AM

    “glad they re out”….ha, even if they won the world championship, you Lakers fans would still dump on the Clippers.

    the feeling is mutual. loved the Laker season. ha!

    • sportsfan18 - May 16, 2014 at 9:29 AM

      the Lakers season…?

      They were 28 games BELOW .500… that is Clipperesque…(well, for most of the Clippers time in La La land that is).

      Over the past two seasons combined, the Lakers are a combined 18 games below .500

      I do NOT see the Lakers being 18 games OVER .500 this coming season and that means that when this next season is complete, the Lakers will be UNDER .500 for a three year period.

    • asimonetti88 - May 16, 2014 at 9:40 AM

      congrats on the Clippers best season ever. Maybe they can hang a banner for it.

    • therealhtj - May 16, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      While I can’t speak for all Lakers fans, I’d offer our long suffering neighbors down the hall a well deserved congratulations should they ever actually win one. Much like I’ll congratulate them when the Sterling nightmare is finally behind them, but it’s not looking like it’s going to be quite as simple as they’d hoped

      What all Lakers and Clippers fans alike can agree on is that we all knew when the cowardly act of the commissioner and other owners to gift wrap Chris Paul to the Clips, that Donald Sterling was a racist slumlord who’d lead to their unraveling. Of course you all loved it because it screwed over the Lakers. In the backs of your minds though, you knew Sterling would ultimately find a way to blow it to bits.

      What I can’t understand is why you’d support them in the first place? Do you just identify more with losing and a long standing tradition of excellence was too unfamiliar for you? They weren’t just mediocre all those years – they were mostly terrible. I’ve always felt you guys were too cheap to pay for Lakers tickets or Dr. Buss stole your woman, but Sterling always was enough for me to dismiss the Clips immediately. Every Clips fan I’ve ever asked, even the ones who could conceivably afford Lakers tickets, have basically answered something to the effect of “I just hate the Lakers.”

      Who I do take issue with are the players, coaches, and team executives who all had intimate knowledge of the kind of man Sterling is, but chose to ignore it because of this recent bit of limited success. Even Elgin kept his mouth shut while he was collecting a paycheck – then he was surprised when he didn’t get paid on the way out the door, like it was out of character for his owner. It was all well and good for all of them when the checks kept coming and Sterling stayed relatively out of the way. It all wound up about as expected.

      • asimonetti88 - May 16, 2014 at 10:07 AM

        Seems like a lot of Clippers fans are hipsters.

      • Wammy Giveaway - May 16, 2014 at 11:13 AM

        You have to remember that Donald Sterling had accomplices – David Stern, Andy Roeser, the former L.A. chapter of the NAACP. It was as if Sterling had spies inside the organization whose job was to make sure his true intentions weren’t revealed. If somebody were to go against him, they would be snitched upon and Sterling would threatened to have them killed or something. Based on Sterling’s racist mentality, I would have believed that anything from him would have been possibly – he is a bully.

        Do you think the players, coaches and employees should have done something, even at the risk of job termination (or death)? Is ignoring Sterling’s racist character the same thing as protecting a known pedophile, like how Joe Paterno protected Jerry Sandusky? Should the Clipper people be guilty?

  10. jzone954 - May 16, 2014 at 5:05 AM

    No one is beating miami in 6 lol what are you guys nuts? If Miami looses it will be in a hard fought 7 games.

  11. rodge1 - May 16, 2014 at 7:14 AM

    @money2long

    Actually, the Heat would rather OKC advance since they will make it harder for San Antonio to advance.

    • money2long - May 16, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      U guys will see. I’m in the minority then saying this is the year the heat go down and to the thunder.

  12. ravenswhat - May 16, 2014 at 7:22 AM

    I am praying for a Heat/thunder finals. KD & Lebron are this generations Bird/Magic.

  13. brugis23 - May 16, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    Mr. Unreliable, uh? If that writer is an OKC fan…he’s a genius!

  14. newyorkball82 - May 16, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    I think the spurs are going to have their hands full in this series, but I still think they take it in 6. Also as much as heat fans think they’re going to run through the Pacers, I’m not so sure about that. They could have very easily lost the last game and the one before against the nets. If not for a few big shots and some terrible nets execution that series would still be going… Anyways, it will more than likely be heat and spurs imo, but, I think the spurs series has a better chance of finishing in 5 or six than the heat series.

  15. golfrangeman - May 16, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    Sportsfan your right about the thunder are durant and westbrook and …… If I’m a coach I throw everything at them I don’t think there willing to trust there teammates like Miami and S.A. That being said they are two fabulous players but they are willing to force shots.

  16. golfrangeman - May 16, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    @newyorkball as much as I hate saying it I agree with you on all points. S.A to me just seems like the team with no weakness and I think they will make KD and Russell force to many shots. I think Miami is the better team mostly because of LeBron but the pacers are always up for them and Hibbert usually turns into a basketball player when he plays the heat. I think it will be Miami in 6 and S.A in 7 because of the home away format.

  17. rrhoe - May 16, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    Not a Clipper fan but it really makes me wonder,what is this team missing??

    • tigerpork - May 16, 2014 at 3:41 PM

      Role players. They have too many stars on the team.

  18. john242322 - May 16, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    When the Pacers are playing in their top form (which has been rare over the past 3 months) they can beat anybody, and I mean anybody. I’ve heard Hawks in 6, Wizards in 6, and now here the Pacers are, right where they wanted to be. Heat are playing better basketball right now, but that doesn’t mean they will walk through the Pacers. I think Pacers come out to play every game really motivated (a lot of games it looks like they’re in cruise control when they don’t need to win) and drag this out to a 7 game thriller.

    Pacers in 7

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