Durant wakes up to carry Thunder past Clippers

Fri May 16, 2014 6:54am EDT
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(Reuters) - Kevin Durant shook off a cold start to score 39 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers 104-98 on Thursday to clinch a place in the Western Conference finals.

League MVP Durant began the game with one-for-seven shooting from the floor, but caught fire and added 16 rebounds and five assists in a Game Six road win that gave the Thunder a 4-2 best-of-seven series triumph.

"It's not how you start, it's how you finish," Durant told reporters. "I just tried to stay with it, no matter what. My team mates did a great job screening for me."

Durant's assured performance carried the Thunder to a third West final in four years, in which they will play the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs.

It was far from easy going for Oklahoma City, however, as they had to rally from an 11-point deficit in the third quarter to muscle past the Clippers.

In Game Five, the Thunder were down by 13 in the closing minutes of the fourth but fought back to stun Los Angeles.

The Clippers' Chris Paul, who took most of the blame for that loss with several bad plays in the final few moments, had 25 points and 11 assists in their season-ending defeat.

Blake Griffin added 22 points and eight rebounds.

For Los Angeles, it was a post-season of drama, starting when owner Donald Sterling made racial comments that got him banned for life from the NBA.   Continued...

May 15, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) shoots against Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes (22) during the fourth quarter in game six of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports - RTR3PEO7