NBA: Kevin Durant, Thunder beat Griz to reach Western Conference finals
The first jumps have been big ones for the Thunder — from 3-29 and headed for the worst season in NBA history after moving to Oklahoma City in 2008 to the West finals just 2 1/2 years later.
Lionel Hollins pulled the Grizzlies' starters with just over 2 1/2 minutes left, after Durant hung on the rim and yelled after his second dunk of the closing minutes. Brooks followed at his next chance, with Durant calmly raising his right fist as he to the sidelines with the sellout crowd standing and roaring at its loudest.
Fans started chanting "We want Dallas!" in the final minute — already gearing up for series that'll be played along a stretch of Interstate 35 a little over 200 miles.
Durant came out aggressive after scoring just 11 points on 3-for-14 shooting in Game 6. He put up nine shots in the opening quarter but made only two, with Memphis leading by as many as five in the early going.
The Grizzlies then missed 18 of 23 shots over a stretch between the midway points of the first and second quarters. The Thunder took advantage with a 13-4 run to finish the first quarter with a 21-17 advantage, then extended their lead with the unexpected spark in the second.
Arena camera crews caught Durant's mother pumping her fist in the air and dancing at her courtside seat during a timeout, and the scoring champ got a kick out of it from across the court. He came out and hit a jumper in the lane and his first 3-pointer from the right side during a 9-0 burst that gave Oklahoma City its first double-digit lead at 33-23.
He also hit his next two shots — another 3 and a layup off a Westbrook alley-oop — to bump the lead up to 11 before Conley's 3-pointer got Memphis to 42-34 at halftime.
Randolph led the Grizzlies back, and Conley's 3-pointer cut it to 52-49 with 4:52 left before Durant got going again.
Durant provided eight points — including two 3-pointers — during a 14-2 response as the Thunder regained control. After his second 3, he ran screaming to the opposite end of the court and slapped hands with former Oklahoma City player Desmond Mason, who was seated courtside.
Durant added a free throw after Hollins' technical foul, and the Thunder led 66-51 with 1:24 to go in the third.
"He brought the All-Star," Memphis' Tony Allen said. "He pushed the turbo button on us today."
NOTES: Home teams are 86-21 in Game 7s in NBA history, and 58-14 since ABA-NBA merger before the 1976-77 season. ... The Thunder had been 5-8 at home on Sundays in the regular season and playoffs, and 30-4 on all other days. ... Gary Payton had the only two other postseason triple-doubles in the Thunder's franchise history, dating to its days in Seattle.
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
Oklahoma City vs. Dallas
Tuesday, May 17: Oklahoma City at Dallas, 7 p.m.
Thursday, May 19: Oklahoma City at Dallas, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 21: Dallas at Oklahoma City, 7 p.m.
Monday, May 23: Dallas at Oklahoma City, 7 p.m.
x-Wednesday, May 25: Oklahoma City at Dallas, 7 p.m.
x-Friday, May 27: Dallas at Oklahoma City, 7 p.m.
x-Sunday, May 29: Oklahoma City at Dallas, 7 p.m.
x- if necessary
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