Thunder Clinch Series With Stunning Second Half

Tuesday, May 22nd 2012, 12:50 am
By: News 9

It was a sellout crowd inside and out as the Oklahoma City Thunder ignited in the third quarter and dominated the fourth to top the Los Angeles Lakers 106-90 clinching the series 4-1.

Inside the arena, more than 18 thousand Thunder fans dressed in blue cheered on the team while outside the arena nearly seven thousand of the rowdiest Thunder faithful watched every moment from the video screen in Thunder Alley making downtown OKC the definition of playoff madness.

Russell Westbrook scored 20 of his 28 points in the second half including two three-point plays that ignited the team to a 14-3 run in the third while Kevin Durant netted two 3-pointers to open the fourth only increasing OKC's run to down the Lakers in a stunning fashion.

Oklahoma City now advances to the Western Conference finals where they will face the San Antonio Spurs on the road starting Sunday at 7:30 p.m. CST.

The first half was once again a back and forth battle but Oklahoma City's stellar rebounding and fast break points led them to a 54-51 advantage at the break.

Westbrook took over in the third proving yet again the Lakers had no answer for him. With just over four minutes left Westbrook intercepted a ball in the passing lane and bolted for the other end of the floor. Ramon Sessions caught up to him and fouled him as he acrobatically flipped up a 15-foot shot that kissed off the glass and in for the and-one opportunity. One free throw later, OKC led 73-70 and would never look back. Westbrook finished with 12 points in the third alone as the Thunder closed the frame on a 17-7 run.

The spark continued for Oklahoma City as Scott Brooks stuck with starters Westbrook and Durant to quickly extend their 5-0 opening to an 11-0 run with nine minutes to play thanks to two 3-pointers by Durant.

Kobe Bryant scored 42 for the Lakers, for the 13th 40-point game of his playoff career but even his impressive game wasn't enough to combat the Thunder down the stretch.

Oklahoma City's bench outscored LA 35-5 while the Thunder also garnered 16 more rebounds and 24 fast break points than LA.

As a team, OKC's improved shooting in the second half resulted in 46.7 percent shooting from the floor and 23.1 percent from 3-point range compared to LA's 45.3 from the field and 18.2 from behind the arc.

The Thunder now face a Spurs team that is undefeated in the playoffs thus far and on a 19-game win streak entering the finals matchup.

The team now has a handful of days to rest and prepare for the challenge ahead against San Antonio before Sunday's game one at 7:30 p.m.