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Thunder roll past Clippers, even series
Oklahoma City, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - The Thunder bounced back from a humbling loss in the opener of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Los Angeles Clippers with a thorough 112-101 victory on Wednesday.
Kevin Durant, a day after picking up his first MVP award, led the way with 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, while Russell Westbrook recorded a triple-double with 31 points, 10 boards and 10 helpers.
What was absent in the Thunder's 17-point loss on Monday was found in evening the series as role players like Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins all provided solid production.
"Our execution was better, our energy was better, we were connected to each other for 48 minutes," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said.
Sefolosha scored 12 of his 14 points in a momentum-building third quarter, Ibaka netted 14 with seven rebounds and Perkins pulled down nine boards for a frontcourt that helped Oklahoma City to a 52-36 edge on the glass.
Chris Paul finished with 17 points and 11 assists to lead the Clippers but was far from the otherworldly force he was in the opener. J.J. Redick scored a team-high 18 points but had just two after halftime, and Blake Griffin, who finished third in the MVP voting, shot just 5-of-13 from the field for 15 points.
The Clippers only made a third of their 3-point attempts (9-of-27) after connecting on 15-of-29 from long range in their homecourt-stealing win.
"They were the more physical team," Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. "I don't think we were very tough mentally tonight."
The series shifts to LA's Staples Center for Game 3 on Friday night.
There was a minor power outage in the arena late in the first half due to lightning in the area, and when play resumed after the break, the Thunder provided all the electricity that was needed.
Sefolosha, who scored 17 points the entire first-round series against the Grizzlies, lit a fire under a home crowd that was rendered quiet in Game 1 with several hustle plays and a rare scoring outburst.
The defensive specialist scored on back-to-back possessions to cap a 10-2 run that stretched Oklahoma City's lead to 78-66 midway through the period, then ignited an 11-0 flurry minutes later with a 3-pointer.
After stripping Jamal Crawford and going in for an uncontested dunk, Sefolosha stole the ensuing inbounds pass that led to a Westbrook 3-pointer.
Ibaka's layup off a Durant feed capped the run and made it a 93-73 game, and the hosts led by double digits the rest of the way despite a late push by LA.
After Paul picked up his second foul midway through the first quarter, Durant and Westbrook went to work as the two All-Stars scored every point during a 13-1 run that gave the Thunder a 27-19 lead.
Durant finished with 17 points in the opening period, which ended with Oklahoma City holding a 37-28 lead that was erased when Paul returned to the floor in the second.
Griffin's jumper with 4:08 remaining in the half gave LA a 52-51 edge, and it went back-and-forth until the Thunder scored the final six points to bring a 61-56 advantage into the intermission.
Westbrook has four career playoff triple-doubles ... The Thunder shot 50.6 percent from the floor, while the Clippers connected on 44.6 percent of their shots ... The Clippers were averaging 124 points their previous two games ... Paul, Crawford, Westbrook, Brooks and Oklahoma City's Steven Adams were all hit with technical fouls.
05/08 01:07:17 ET