When Lil Wayne turned down Kevin Durant’s invitation to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, he missed quite a show by the three-time scoring champion.
Durant scored 18 of his 36 points in a scintillating final 7 minutes, Serge Ibaka added a career-high 26 points and the Thunder evened the series at two games apiece by beating the San Antonio Spurs 109-103 Saturday night.
After seeing his team’s 15-point lead dwindle to four, Durant took over midway through the fourth quarter by scoring all 16 of the Thunder’s points during a span of just over 5 minutes to keep the Spurs at bay…
With All-Star teammate Russell Westbrook limited to seven points, Durant did almost all of the damage late to send the series back to San Antonio all square for Game 5 on Monday night.
Durant, who finished behind only LeBron James in MVP voting, hit three straight jumpers, the last one coming after he bumped into Tony Parker in the lane to draw a foul and set up a three-point play. Then he attacked the rim for his next three baskets, getting to the line again when he was fouled on a layup off of James Harden’s alley-oop…
Tim Duncan had 21 points for San Antonio, which had won 20 in a row before losing Game 3. Leonard added 17 points and nine rebounds.
Ibaka made all 11 of his shots - and all four of his free throws - to lead a strong performance from Oklahoma City’s frontcourt while Durant’s usual running mates, Westbrook and Harden, both struggled.
Ibaka, starting center Kendrick Perkins and reserve Nick Collison combined to go 22 for 25 from the field for 49 points. Westbrook missed eight of his 10 shots and Harden was limited to eight points.
– Reported by Jeff Latzke of the Associated Press
Before the fourth, the Spurs were burned by the surge of Ibaka, who made all 11 of his field goals, one shy of an NBA playoff record, en route to a career-high 26 points, adding a perfect (4-for-4) showing from the foul line.
Not renowned for his offense, Perkins nailed seven of his nine shots for 15 points to go with nine rebounds.
“Their bigs were the difference in the game,” said Tim Duncan, who had his best game of the series with 21 points and eight rebounds.
Together, Ibaka, Perkins and Collison formed an unlikely Big Three for OKC, combining to make 22 of 25.
“If you had a shooting drill with nobody guarding you, I don’t think you could do that,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Durant had just four attempts during a first half spent involving the OKC big men.
– Reported by Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News
The NBA record for the most shots made without a miss in a playoff game is 12-for-12, set by Larry McNeill in 1975. Scott Wedman is the only other player in NBA history to go 11-for-11. He did it in 1985.
“That’s a pretty big effect,” a still astonished Popovich said. “All the (Thunder’s) bigs really scored tonight. Obviously, you put most of your attention on the big three there and try to do a great job on them first. But the bigs came through tonight and were outstanding.”
The Thunder’s big man trio of Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison combined to shoot 22-for-25. Perkins was 7-for-9. Collison was 4-for-5.
– Reported by Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman