OKLAHOMA CITY – Russell Westbrook scored 38 points and made three free throws with 6.4 seconds remaining, and the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame a seven-point deficit in the final 50 seconds to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 105-104 on Tuesday night to go up 3-2 in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals.
Westbrook was fouled by Chris Paul while shooting a three-pointer with the Thunder trailing by two. After the free throws, Paul drove to the hoop, but Reggie Jackson stole the ball from him and time expired.
Kevin Durant scored 10 of his 27 points in the final 3:23 for the Thunder after shooting 3 for 17 through three quarters.
Blake Griffin had 24 points and 17 rebounds for the Clippers. Jamal Crawford, a graduate of Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, scored 19 points and Paul added 17 points and 14 assists.
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The Thunder can clinch the series Thursday in Los Angeles.
The play that led to Westbrook’s free throws is in dispute.
Durant made a three-pointer, then Crawford missed from in close before Durant made a layup with 17 seconds left. Westbrook stole the ball and, in a scramble, the Thunder got possession with 11.3 seconds to go, setting up Westbrook’s play.
The Clippers believed the ball went off Jackson, but officials awarded the ball to the Thunder. After video review, the play stood.
“Everybody knows it was our ball,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “The bottom line is, they thought it was a foul and they made up for it. Let’s take away the replay. We were robbed.”
Of fouling Westbrook and getting stripped by Jackson in the final seconds, Paul said, “Probably the toughest thing I’ve been through, basketball-wise. Everything that happened there at the end is on me. It was just bad basketball.”
Wizards avoid elimination
INDIANAPOLIS – The Washington Wizards were tired of getting shoved around in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
So Marcin Gortat and teammates pushed back — hard.
Gortat delivered the best playoff game of his career, collecting 31 points and 16 rebounds, and John Wall scored his playoff-best 27 points as Washington routed the Indiana Pacers 102-79 to cut the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals deficit to 3-2.
“We don’t have anything to lose now,” Gortat said. “We play desperate. At the end of the day, we might lose. We have to play every minute of every game like it’s the last one of the season.”
The Wizards made a stunning turnaround after losing three straight, two on their home court in incredibly demoralizing fashion. Washington scored a franchise-low 63 points in Game 3 and then blew a 19-point lead in the second half of Game 4.
Washington refused to let it happen again this time, earning a trip home for Game 6 on Thursday.
The difference was obvious.
Wall broke free, Gortat dominated the middle and the motivated Wizards were simply overwhelming inside with a 62-23 rebounding edge.