Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) blocks a shot by San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter during the third quarterof game four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. (Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports)
Westbrook, Durant lead Thunder past Spurs, even series at 2-2
The best-of-seven series is tied 2-2, with Game 5 scheduled for Thursday in San Antonio.
Westbrook ended the night with 40 points, 10 assists and five steals. Durant posted 31 points on 11-of-22 shooting. No other Thunder player scored in double figures, but forward Serge Ibaka added nine points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots. The Thunder have won both games in which Ibaka has played in this series.
Oklahoma City built a 27-point lead in the third quarter and seemed to have the game well in hand when Spurs coach Gregg Popovich benched his starters midway through the period.
But forward Boris Diaw, guard Marco Belinelli and guard Cory Joseph led the Spurs on a run that reduced the deficit to 12 points early in the fourth quarter.
However, that would be as close as San Antonio would get. Westbrook and Durant kept scoring at will against the second team as Popovich allowed forward Tim Duncan, guard Tony Parker and guard Manu Ginobili to sit and watch the entire final 12 minutes.
Parker paced the Spurs with 14 points and four assists. Diaw scored 14 points to go along with 10 rebounds and Joseph added 11 points. Duncan was held to nine points on 3-for-8 shooting.
Oklahoma City guard Reggie Jackson rolled his right ankle early in the first quarter. After trying to play through it, he was taken back to the locker room, and he was replaced in lineup by Jeremy Lamb. Jackson returned to action to start the second quarter, but he lasted only 90 seconds before heading back to locker room.
San Antonio started off the night with a quick 8-0 run, with Parker attacking the middle of the Thunder defense. It looked as if they had solved their issues from Game 3.
However, from that point on, the Thunder outscored the Spurs 26-12 to close out the first quarter with a six-point lead.
Despite the injury to Jackson, Oklahoma City was able to control the pace of the game behind Westbrook and Lamb. Westbrook was especially aggressive in driving to the basket and picking up fouls on the Spurs.
Once again, though, it was the Thunder defense that took San Antonio out of its comfort zone. Oklahoma City compiled seven steals and six blocks in the first half, and the Thunder led 58-43 at the break.
NOTES: The Spurs didn't hold a shootaround Tuesday. Coach Gregg Popovich gave a detailed account of how he spent the day in Oklahoma City. "I read Wine Spectator," Popovich told an inquisitive reporter, "read a little bit of a book, slept, worked out, had breakfast. Anything else you want to know personally that I might have done?" ... Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks went with the same starting five for second consecutive game. "The guys off the bench have to be ready. It's a game-time, game-flow decision," Brooks said.