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Friday, May 18, 2012
Thunder take 2-0 lead with late run on Lakers
OKLAHOMA CITY — Even down late, the Oklahoma City Thunder are showing that they are never out.
Kevin Durant scored 22 points and rattled in the go-ahead basket on a baseline runner with 18 seconds left, and Oklahoma City scored the final nine points to rally for a 77-75 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals Wednesday night.
The Thunder trailed by seven with 2 minutes left before surging back with a series of defensive stops by its stars to claw back from that deficit in the closing stages of a game for the second time this postseason. Oklahoma City was also seven down with 2½ minutes left in Game 1 against defending NBA champion Dallas in the first round.
"They won't quit. That's not in their DNA," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "They're not wired that way and if they were, they wouldn't be here. We're not going to win every game but we're going to fight to the last second of the game and we did that tonight.
"If we would have gotten down on ourselves with 2 minutes to go, we would have lost by 12 and we would go to L.A. 1-1."
Instead, the Thunder take a 2-0 lead into Game 3 on Friday night at Staples Center.
Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum scored 20 points apiece for Los Angeles, which came up empty on its last six possessions after Bynum's hook shot made it 75-68 with 2:09 remaining.
After struggling throughout the second half and missing 20 of their first 27 shots, Oklahoma City suddenly came alive after Brooks called timeout following Bynum's basket that gave the Lakers their largest lead of the game.
James Harden drove for a layup before Durant used his height advantage to reach up and tip away a pass from Bryant, who he was guarding. Durant ran out for a right-handed dunk at the other end before Russell Westbrook forced another turnover by aggressively challenging an outlet pass to Bryant along the sideline.
Harden made the next stop, blocking Bryant's jumper on the next Lakers possession and getting a layup in transition off it to cut the deficit to one in the final minute.
Bryant couldn't connect again, this time on a 3-pointer, to give the Thunder the ball back with the chance to take the lead and Durant was able to make it happen.
"I wish it was my magical words. All I told the guys was, 'We're down 7. You don't have to play perfect basketball but we better come pretty close,'" Brooks said.
Steve Blake missed an open 3-pointer from the right side with about 5 seconds left after Metta World Peace couldn't get the ball to Bryant on the inbounds play.
Oklahoma City has won all nine of its series after leading 2-0, dating back to the franchise's days in Seattle.
Celtics 107, 76ers 91
In Philadelphia, Kevin Garnett scored 27 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and used a dominant second quarter to help Boston beat the 76ers and take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Whistled for a costly illegal pick late in a Game 2 loss, Garnett crushed Philadelphia early and never let it think about a fourth-quarter rally.
Garnett scored 13 of Boston's 32 points in the second quarter and the Celtics became the first team to win by double digits. Game 1 and Game 2 were each decided by one point.
Rajon Rondo had 23 points and 14 assists. Paul Pierce, playing with a banged-up knee, had 24 points and 12 rebounds.
Game 4 is set for Friday in Philadelphia.
Thaddeus Young scored 22 points and Jrue Holiday had 15 for the 76ers. Lou Williams and Jodie Meeks each scored 13. Starters Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner combined for only 11 points.
Philadelphia hadn't hosted a second-round game since 2003, when coach Larry Brown and All-Star Allen Iverson ruled the town. Julius Erving walked out to a roaring ovation when he presented the game ball.