OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant got back to playing like he’s used to against a Memphis team that had to change things up at the worst possible time.
Durant scored 33 points, Russell Westbrook had a triple-double and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Grizzlies 120-109 on Saturday night in Game 7 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series.
Durant looked like his usual self after struggling against Memphis’ rugged defense for much of the series. The regular-season scoring champion made 12 of 18 field goals and all five of his three-pointers after struggling from long range throughout the series.
“I got out of my own way,” he said. “I was thinking too much. I was worrying about what you guys (the media) were saying. I was worrying about what shots I was going to shoot throughout a game. I was thinking too much, and the game of basketball is played off of instincts.
- Mount St. Helens, still steaming, holds the world’s newest glacier
- Whitest big county in the U.S.? It’s us
- Seattle sets heat record for July 4
- For escapee, prison now will mean 23 hours a day in a cell
- Sound Transit planning heats up for light-rail expansion and public vote
Most Read Stories
“I just released everything and enjoyed myself. And I knew if I just put the work in for my team, the results would show.”
With top scorer Zach Randolph suspended, the Grizzlies shook things up and traded their grind-it-out style for Oklahoma City’s faster pace.
It worked for a while, but eventually, the explosive Thunder was just too much.
Randolph was punished for punching Thunder center Steven Adams in the jaw late in Game 6, forcing Memphis coach Dave Joerger to make changes. Guards Tony Allen and Mike Miller started for the first time in the series in place of Randolph and Tayshaun Prince. The Grizzlies led by 11 points in the first half before the Thunder overwhelmed them and shot 66 percent after the break.
Westbrook had 27 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds. His assist total tied the franchise record for a playoff game set in 1987 by Nate McMillan when the team was still in Seattle. It was Westbrook’s second triple-double in the past three games. He made 10 of 16 shots from the field, both of his three-pointers and five of his six free throws.
Marc Gasol led Memphis with 24 points, and he made 10 of 11 free throws.
LOS ANGELES — Blake Griffin scored 24 points, Chris Paul had 22 points and 14 assists, and the Los Angeles Clippers outlasted the Golden State Warriors 126-121 in Game 7 to win their thrilling first-round playoff series.
Jamal Crawford from Rainier Beach High School scored 22 points for the third-seeded Clippers, who won just the franchise’s third playoff series in 38 years after persevering through two tumultuous weeks for their franchise.
Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned for life from the NBA on Tuesday after a recording of racist comments by the 80-year-old billionaire was made public last week.
Los Angeles advanced to a matchup with Oklahoma City.
Stephen Curry had 33 points and nine assists for the Warriors, who blew a late lead. Former Cougar Klay Thompson scored 15 points.
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana salvaged its season by reverting to form: its first-half form.
Paul George scored a career-playoff-high 30 points, Lance Stephenson added 19 and Roy Hibbert finally came up big against the more nimble Atlanta Hawks as the Pacers survived a first-round scare with a 92-80 victory in the decisive seventh game.
Two days after staving off elimination in Atlanta, the top-seeded Pacers did it again and advanced to a second-round series against Washington that starts Monday in Indiana.
“We know what we want to get to and we know what our journey is,” George said.
George sparked the two biggest runs of the game, finished 11 of 23 from the field and grabbed 11 rebounds for a league-leading sixth double-double in the playoffs.
Stephenson added nine rebounds and five assists, and wiggled his hips after a game-clinching dunk with 80 seconds to go. Hibbert awoke from his recent slumber with 13 points, seven rebounds and five blocks.
Indiana’s regular starters won back-to-back games for the first time since mid-March, rallying from a 3-2 deficit to win a series for the first time in franchise history.
• The NBA said it will appoint a chief executive officer to supervise the Los Angeles Clippers’ operations after banning owner Sterling from the league for life.
• Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale will return to the team next season, sources confirmed to ESPN.com. The news was first reported by the Houston Chronicle. McHale was in the last guaranteed year of his contract, with a team option for next season.