Kevin Durant had 34 points and 14 rebounds as the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied from an 18-point deficit to reach the National Basketball Association Finals with a 107-99 defeat of the San Antonio Spurs.
The Thunder finished off the best-of-seven Western Conference finals in Game 6 last night before a raucous crowd in Oklahoma City, where the hosts are 8-0 this postseason.
Oklahoma City won the final four games of the series after falling behind 2-0 against a team that was on a 20-game winning streak. If the Spurs had won, there would have been a decisive seventh game tomorrow night in San Antonio.
“This is the toughest game we’ve played since I’ve been here,” said Durant, who hugged his mother and brother on the side of the court in the game’s final seconds. “We kept playing hard. Coach just said we had to play with force, with a sense of urgency. We didn’t want to go back to San Antonio.”
The Thunder will play the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat in the Finals. Boston will try to wrap up the Eastern Conference title tonight at home in Game 6. The Celtics lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 after winning three straight games.
Tony Parker had 29 points and 12 assists for San Antonio and Tim Duncan, who has led the Spurs to four NBA championships since he entered the league in 1997, had 25 points and 14 rebounds.
Russell Westbrook added 25 points and James Harden had 16 for the Thunder, who moved to the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City from Seattle in 2008.
“All I can think of is how this incredible group of young men has unified this city and this state as never before,” owner Clay Bennett said in the televised trophy ceremony after the game.
Parker had 21 points in the first half and the Spurs led by 15 at the intermission after being ahead by as many as 18 points in the second period.
The Thunder opened the third period with an 11-2 run to pull within six points and took their first lead since early in the game on a 3-pointer by Durant with 1:39 remaining in the quarter.
The Spurs led 81-80 entering the fourth period and held a two-point advantage before Durant and Harden had three points each in an 8-0 run that gave Oklahoma City the lead for good.
Derek Fisher, who won five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers before signing with the Thunder midway through this season, and Harden hit 3-pointers to help maintain Oklahoma City’s margin. Kendrick Perkins put an exclamation point on the victory with a two-handed slam on a pass from Durant with 25 seconds left.
“It’s happening before our eyes,” Fisher said in a televised interview. “We’re just playing and doing it for each other. Great things can happen when you play for each other.”