Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks not to take him out of games, Kevin Durant finally got his wish.
And now, he's one big step closer to making his basketball dreams come true.
Durant had 34 points and 14 rebounds while playing all of
regulation for the first time all season, and the Thunder claimed a
spot in the NBA Finals by beating the San Antonio Spurs 107-99 on Wednesday night.
added 25 points for the Thunder, who trailed Game 6 of the
Western Conference finals by 18 in the first half and erased a
15-point halftime deficit before pulling ahead to stay in the
"It's an amazing moment for him to play like this in this
moment, in this setting, and I wasn't going to take him out,"
"I was not going to take him out. I
don't care how many times he looked at me fatigued. He has enough,
and I think all of our guys have enough to play. You just have to
fight through it."
Durant grabbed the final
rebound, dribbled the ball across halfcourt and raised his right
fist to celebrate with a sold-out crowd wearing free white
T-shirts. The franchise will play for the NBA title for the first
time since 1996, before relocating from Seattle.
Even before the final buzzer, Durant indulged by hugging his mother and
brother seated courtside after a foul was called with 14 seconds
"I never want to take those moments
for granted," Durant said. "I know it's just one step closer to
our dreams, but it felt good."
Tony Parker had 29 points and 12 assists for San Antonio, but only eight of the points and two assists came in the second half.
The Thunder outscored the Spurs 59-36 after falling behind 63-48
at halftime and getting a challenge from Brooks that he said had
"nothing to do" with committing eight turnovers against only six
assists while allowing San Antonio to shoot 9 for 15 on
"It just had everything to do with who
we are as men, who we are as a team, the type of spirit that we
want to show every time down the court," Brooks said. "It was all
about that, about body language, about being a family. I thought
our guys did that the first possession of that second half and
they did not look back."
Tim Duncan chipped in 25 points and 14 rebounds, and Stephen Jackson
scored 23 as San Antonio lost its fourth straight after becoming
only the fourth team in NBA history to win 20 games in a row.
In the process, the Spurs pushed past Oklahoma City for the best
record in the league and home-court advantage in the playoffs. But
the Thunder took that back by winning Game 5 in San Antonio on
"There's not much to complain about,"
San Antonio's Manu Ginobili said. "We had a great run. We just
couldn't beat these guys."
The Thunder, only three
years removed from a 3-29 start that had them on pace for the
worst record in NBA history, went through the only three West
teams to reach the finals since 1998 -- Dallas, the Los Angeles
Lakers and San Antonio -- to earn their shot at the title.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals will be Tuesday night in Oklahoma City
against either Boston or Miami. The Celtics lead that series 3-2
and can earn a trip to the finals with a win at home in Game 6 on
The Thunder took the lead for good
early in the fourth quarter, getting nine of their first 13 points
on free throws as the fouls started to pile up for San Antonio --
six on the defensive end and three on the offensive end in the
first seven minutes.
Even Durant drew what he thought was his first charge of the season, stepping in front of Ginobili.
Derek Fisher and James Harden
hit 3-pointers in a three-possession span to increase the lead to
99-93 with 3:13 remaining. Jackson, who had made his previous six
3-pointers, and Parker both missed 3s that would have gotten the
Spurs within 103-102 in the final minute.
The Spurs put up quite a fight, at least for the first half.
Parker, who had been largely bottled up ever since the Thunder put 6-foot-7 defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha
on him in Game 3, had a hand in the Spurs' first 12 baskets,
making seven on his own and assisting on the other five.
and Jackson followed his three-point play by nailing back-to-back
3-pointers for a 34-16 advantage in the final two minutes of the
"I told the coaches that I could go
all night, I could go 48, and I didn't think they would let me do
it," Durant said. "But they kept me in and I just tried to give my
team a spark."
The Thunder stormed back with an
11-2 run to start the third quarter and eventually pulled ahead
after Durant's 3-pointer from the top of the key made it 79-77
with 1:41 left in the period.
San Antonio missed seven of nine of 11 3-pointers in the second half.
"The third quarter, it was like playing in mud," Spurs coach Gregg
Popovich said. "So, that was our downfall as much as anything."
Source: CBS Sports