Durant leads final quarter rally, Thunder oust NuggetsApr 28, 2011 - 5:24 AM Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) - Kevin Durant scored 16 of his 41 points in the last quarter, pushing Oklahoma City into the second round of the playoffs with a 100-97, Game 5 win over the Denver Nuggets.
Russell Westbrook overcame a 3-for-15 shooting slump and had 14 points for the fourth-seeded Thunder, who will play either top seed San Antonio or Memphis in the Western Conference semifinals. It was the first playoff series win for the team since moving to Oklahoma City. The franchise's last postseason triumph came in 2005 when the Seattle SuperSonics upended Sacramento in five games in the first round.
Serge Ibaka was a force inside with nine blocks, one off the NBA playoff record. That included a crucial swat of an attempted Nene jam in the final minute.
Durant hit a huge jumper with 12 seconds remaining and blocked a three-point try from J.R. Smith. The Thunder then survived Arron Afflalo's missed three- point try as time expired to advance.
"I just tried to seize the moment, take advantage of it," Durant said. "They kept feeding me the rock. I was able to get to some good spots and fortunately I made some shots."
Denver, which blew a 91-82 lead in the final quarter, was led by Afflalo's 15 points. They lost despite holding the Thunder to 36.6 percent shooting.
It was a rough end to a season of big changes for the Nuggets, who traded away Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the New York Knicks.
"It's going to be tough to get out of your system," Nuggets coach George Karl said of the series defeat. "This won't be 24 hours, this will be a lot longer than that."
After nearly being swept in this best-of-seven set on Monday, the Nuggets were in prime position to send this series back to Denver, but couldn't solve Durant in the fourth quarter.
Afflalo's two free throws widened Denver to the nine-point lead with 4:15 remaining, but the Nuggets couldn't hold it. That's because Durant scored 16 of his team's final 20 points.
A three-pointer from James Harden tied the game at 91 with 1:50 left.
The back-and-forth affair continued, but the Nuggets received a scare with 54.7 seconds left when Raymond Felton drove to the basket and then appeared to injure his left ankle. Felton was helped off the court, but after a timeout came back and made two free throws to give Denver a 97-96 edge.
Durant then was fouled by Kenyon Martin and sank two from the line with 46.1 seconds left to give his team the lead for good.
Afflalo drove into the lane at the other end before dishing to Nene at the left of the hoop. Ibaka went right up with Nene to contest the dunk and came up with the huge block.
Oklahoma City called timeout with 15.4 seconds left and six seconds on the shot clock. Durant then got the inbounds pass and tight-roped the timeline before initially being called for over-and-back. Officials then changed the call with 14.8 seconds left, saying Durant's momentum took him into the backcourt.
That gave the Thunder a new lease for a chance to widen the lead, and Durant did just that, escaping Nene on the inbounds pass and hitting a jumper just beyond the foul line.
"I made a Randy Moss cutback move. I used my football skills and I was able to get going," Durant said. "Nene did a great job of contesting that shot and luckily it went in. It felt good to get a slight lead. I think we willed ourselves to this victory."
After Durant knocked Smith's shot out of bounds, Afflalo's try from the left side clanked off the backboard and rim as time expired. That capped Denver's 6-of-21 shooting performance in the last quarter.
The Thunder were down as many as nine in the opening quarter and trailed 28-25 after 12 minutes. Durant's two free throws in the final minute of the half had the game even at 50 at the break.
Oklahoma City went 5-of-21 from the field in the third, but only trailed by a 76-72 count going to the fourth.
Martin had 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Ty Lawson and Felton each scored 13...Harden had 12 points, one more than teammate Kendrick Perkins, who also had nine boards...Durant went 14-of-27 from the field, including 2-of-10 from three-point range. His 41 points tied a career playoff-high.
- DENVER: 97
OKLAHOMA CITY: 100
Apr 28 12:22 AM
- DENVER: 76
OKLAHOMA CITY: 72
End of 3rd
Apr 27 11:31 PM
- DENVER: 50
OKLAHOMA CITY: 50
Apr 27 10:45 PM
- DENVER: 28
OKLAHOMA CITY: 25
End of 1st
Apr 27 10:10 PM
- DENVER: 0
OKLAHOMA CITY: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
Apr 27 9:42 PM
- Warriors-Thunder Preview May 23
- Draymond, Westbrook swap barbs over fouls, kicks May 23
- Warriors' Green could face discipline after flagrant foul May 23
- Durant, Westbrook lead Thunder in blowout win over Warriors May 23
- Mark Cuban tells 'Meet The Press' Thunder are his title pick May 22
- Warriors-Thunder Preview May 21
- Warriors' big men must come up big in Game 3 against Thunder May 21
- Donovan, Kerr took very different paths to NBA coaching May 21
- Thunder will try to bounce back after big loss to Warriors May 20
- Column: Savor our version of Magic-Bird - Curry vs LeBron May 20
- Stephen Curry's sore right elbow not limiting him on court May 20
- Klay Thompson has carried Warriors this postseason May 19