LOS ANGELES — The past week has been a pretty special one for Kevin Durant and his Oklahoma City teammates. After they lost Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, he went on to be named MVP and led his team to consecutive wins in the series.
That magical ride came to a stunning halt on Mother’s Day when the Thunder watched Los Angeles rally from 22 points to win 101-99 at the Staples Center Sunday.
The series is now 2-2 as it heads back to Oklahoma City for Game 5 Tuesday. The loss changed the entire complexion of the Western Conference Semifinals. It went from being a bumpy, but almost certain path to the next round to one that is now in doubt.
“It’s a three game series now,” Durant said. “Of course, we let this one slip away. We could have took control of the series. We go home. It’s not guaranteed we win at home. We’ve got to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Oklahoma City held a 82-66 lead in the fourth quarter and were cruising toward an easy win. But the Clippers brought in a small lineup that included playing Darren Collison in the backcourt with Chris Paul. In no time they were able to cut the lead to five.
The Thunder tried going to Durant to silence the L.A. momentum. Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers made the decision to use double teams and to put Paul on the league’s MVP and leading scorer. Durant was unable to make them pay for that choice. He was held to 10 points in the period.
“That’s something we’ll look at in the film,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Kevin was having trouble getting catches. But it was physical out there. I’ll just say that. It was physical.”
A three-point play by the Clippers’ Blake Griffin with 1:50 left tied the contest at 94-94. Durant then hit 1-of-2 from line after he was fouled by Paul.