Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka of Congo, center, grabs a rebound as Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, left, and forward Pau Gasol of Spain look on during the first half in Game 3 of an NBA basketball playoffs Western Conference semifinal, Friday, May 18, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)AP2012
LOS ANGELES – Oklahoma City Thunder have taken a 3 - 1 lead in the series against the Los Angeles Lakers, and the San Antonio Spurs take a commanding 3 - 0 lead against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Oklahoma City 103, Los Angeles Lakers 100
Russell Westbrook scored 10 of his 37 points during a stirring fourth-quarter comeback, Kevin Durant added 31 points and hit the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 13.7 seconds left, and the Oklahoma City Thunder seized control of the second-round series with a 103-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 on Saturday night.
Kevin Durant stood above the 3-point line and watched the shot clock dwindle in the final seconds of Game 4. When Metta World Peace backed up slightly on defense, Durant hesitated only an instant before launching a 26-footer.
"It left my hand, (and) I was thinking, 'If this doesn't go in, it's going to be a terrible shot,'" Durant said.
The three-time scoring champ trusts his instincts and his silky-smooth jumper. Neither let him down while he and Russell Westbrook engineered yet another late comeback that pushed a frustrated Kobe Bryant to the brink.
Westbrook scored 10 of his 37 points during a stirring fourth-quarter rally, Durant added 31 points and hit that tiebreaking 3-pointer with 13.7 seconds left, and the Thunder seized control of their second-round series with a 103-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.
Serge Ibaka scored 14 points and the second-seeded Thunder took a 3-1 series lead with a rally from a 13-point deficit in the final 8 minutes, moving one win away from their second straight trip to the Western Conference finals.
"Everybody kept fighting," Westbrook said. "We all believed in each other. It's the playoffs. You can't afford to sit back and wonder about it."
Game 5 is Monday night in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City improved to 7-1 in the postseason with a tenacious rally on the second night of back-to-back games against the Lakers and Bryant, who scored 38 points but struggled in the fourth quarter of Los Angeles' fifth loss in seven games. After Durant put the Thunder ahead with his shot-clock-draining 3-pointer, Kobe couldn't match it with 10 seconds left.
With a surge that seemed inevitable to the Lakers' worried crowd, Durant and Westbrook led the Thunder back with teamwork throughout a 32-point fourth quarter. Bryant was left lamenting the help he didn't get — particularly from four-time All-Star Pau Gasol, who made the unforced turnover that led to Durant's decisive 3.
"Pau has got to be more aggressive," Bryant said of Gasol, who managed just 10 points and five rebounds while committing three turnovers. "He's got to be aggressive, got to shoot the ball, drive to the basket, and he will next game. ... (The turnover was) just a bad read on Pau's part. It happens."
The Thunder finished Game 4 on a 22-8 run, punctuated by Durant's dramatic 3-pointer and two late free throws from James Harden, who had 12 points. After sweeping Dallas in the first round, the Thunder are one win away from sending home the NBA's last two champions — and in perhaps the greatest measure of the Thunder's growth over the two years since the Lakers ushered them out of the first round on the way to their second straight title, nobody seems surprised.
"We know no game is over," Durant said. "We've witnessed that before. We play hard every possession and live with the results, and we came out on top."
Andrew Bynum had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who led 92-81 with 7:45 to play before Westbrook went to work with a furious series of drives to the hoop. The UCLA product scored nine points in just over 2 minutes, and Kendrick Perkins capped the 17-4 run on a putback layup with 1:16 left, putting Oklahoma City up 98-96 with its first lead since the first quarter.
After Bryant evened it with two free throws, Westbrook and Pau Gasol then traded turnovers, with Durant swiping Gasol's careless pass before burying a straightaway 3-pointer that silenced Staples Center. The Thunder made 10 of their 15 shots in the final period.
"I wish I could sit up here and say how that happened," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "It just happened."
Game 5 is Monday night in Oklahoma City.
SPURS 96, CLIPPERS 86
Tim Duncan scored 19 points, helping engineer a 24-0 run in the third quarter after the San Antonio trailed by 24 points, and the Spurs beat Los Angeles to take a 3-0 lead in their second-round playoff series.
Tony Parker added 23 points, rookie Kawhi Leonard 14 and Manu Ginobili 13 to help the top-seeded Spurs win their 17th in a row and improve to 7-0 in the playoffs.
Blake Griffin had 28 points and 16 rebounds, and reserve Mo Williams added 19 points for the Clippers, who face some daunting NBA history heading into Game 4 on Sunday at Staples Center. No team has ever rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a series.
"If we don't play with that sense of urgency, it's not going to be pretty," Griffin said.
The Clippers played a must-win Game 7 in the opening round on the road at Memphis and succeeded.
"We have to keep fighting," Paul said.
Rookie Kawhi Leonard added 14 points and Manu Ginobili 13 to help the top-seeded Spurs win their 17th in a row and improve to 7-0 in the playoffs.
"We all struggled in the first quarter. We didn't feel right out there," said Duncan, who like his teammates, looked to Parker to pick the team up.
"We follow his lead. He stuck with it, made some big shots down the stretch and continued to attack," Duncan said. "He was playing defense really hard and got up into Chris."
Besides Parker, the Spurs threw two other defenders at Paul. He finished with 12 points and 11 assists after two previous sub-par efforts in the series.
"Tony really ran the show well," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I'd say, 'Let's do this' and he said, 'No, let's do this,' and we'd do it."
After a quiet first half in which he scored eight points, Duncan helped the Spurs control the third quarter when they outscored Los Angeles 26-8.
The Spurs took their first lead during the 24-0 run on a fadeaway jumper by Duncan, who scored nine points in the outburst that put them ahead for good. Danny Green added seven and Leonard five.
Reporting by the Associated Press.