Durant, Westbrook Help Thunder Level Series

Reuters Contributor
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(Reuters) – Newly crowned MVP Kevin Durant scored 32 points and Russell Westbrook recorded a triple-double as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers 112-101 on Wednesday to level their second round playoff series.

A day after he was named the NBA’s top player, Durant came up with a performance that included 12 rebounds and nine assists.

Westbrook backed him up with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as the home Thunder tied the best-of-seven series 1-1.

Durant lifted his new trophy in front of the Oklahoma City crowd prior to the game, but quickly had to focus on lifting his team.

“I didn’t want to take that moment for granted. It was surreal. I wanted to enjoy it, but focus on the game at the same time,” Durant told reporters. “I liked our intensity and focus to start the game.”

Having been blown out in a Game One home loss Monday, Oklahoma City responded with a second-half surge and led by 20 in the fourth quarter.

Chris Paul tallied 17 points and 11 assists for the Clippers after a career shooting performance that included eight three-pointers in the previous game.

Paul spent much of the game chasing Westbrook, who notched his third triple-double in the last five games.

“I think (Westbrook) played harder than all of us combined,” Paul said. “He was all over the place. We have to play better.”

Los Angeles trailed by five at halftime but the Thunder broke the game open in the third quarter where they outscored the Clippers 33-21.

It was a good night for the Oklahoma City supporting cast including Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha, who tallied 14 points apiece.

Los Angeles All Star forward Blake Griffin had a quiet night with 15 points and six rebounds.

Game Three is on Friday in Los Angeles.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)