Thunder advances to NBA Finals
After years of nagging Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks not to take him out of games, Kevin Durant finally got his wish. And now, he's one...
OKLAHOMA CITY — After years of nagging Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks not to take him out of games, Kevin Durant finally got his wish.
And now, he's one big step closer to making his basketball dreams come true.
Durant had 34 points and 14 rebounds while playing all of regulation for the first time all season, and the Thunder claimed a spot in the NBA Finals by beating the San Antonio Spurs 107-99 on Wednesday night.
Russell Westbrook added 25 points for the Thunder, which trailed Game 6 of the Western Conference finals by 18 in the first half and erased a 15-point halftime deficit before pulling ahead to stay in the fourth.
"It's an amazing moment for him to play like this in this moment, in this setting, and I wasn't going to take him out," Brooks said.
"I was not going to take him out. I don't care how many times he looked at me fatigued. He has enough, and I think all of our guys have enough to play. You just have to fight through it."
Durant grabbed the final rebound, dribbled the ball across midcourt and raised his right fist to celebrate with a sold-out crowd wearing free white T-shirts. The franchise will play for the NBA title for the first time since 1996, before relocating from Seattle.
Even before the final buzzer, Durant indulged by hugging his mother and brother seated courtside after a foul was called with 14 seconds remaining.
"I never want to take those moments for granted," Durant said. "I know it's just one step closer to our dreams, but it felt good."
Tony Parker had 29 points and 12 assists for San Antonio, but only eight of the points and two assists came in the second half.
The Thunder outscored the Spurs 59-36 after falling behind 63-48 at halftime and getting a challenge from Brooks that he said had "nothing to do" with committing eight turnovers against only six assists while allowing San Antonio to shoot 9 for 15 on three-pointers.
"It just had everything to do with who we are as men, who we are as a team, the type of spirit that we want to show every time down the court," Brooks said. "It was all about that, about body language, about being a family. I thought our guys did that the first possession of that second half and they did not look back."
Tim Duncan chipped in 25 points and 14 rebounds, and Stephen Jackson scored 23 as San Antonio lost its fourth straight after becoming only the fourth team in NBA history to win 20 games in a row.
"There's not much to complain about," San Antonio's Manu Ginobili said. "We had a great run. We just couldn't beat these guys."
Game 1 of the NBA Finals will be Tuesday night in Oklahoma City against either Boston or Miami. The Celtics lead that series 3-2 and can earn a trip to the Finals with a win at home in Game 6 on Thursday night.
Bosh may start
MIAMI — Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is still debating whether to start forward Chris Bosh in Game 6.
Bosh returned to the lineup for the first time in Tuesday's Game 5, scoring nine points and grabbing seven rebounds. He had missed the previous nine postseason games because of a strained lower abdominal muscle.
The Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel contributed to this report.