Kevin Durant scored 22 points, Russell Westbrook added 18 points and eight rebounds, and the Thunder evened its first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers with a 110-89 victory in Game 4 last night in Oklahoma City.
For the second straight game, the Thunder capitalized on a significant edge at the foul line and on the boards, despite the presence of the Lakers’ 7-foot tandem of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
Oklahoma City never trailed after the opening five minutes and led by double digits for the final three quarters in a thorough dismantling of the defending NBA champions.
Bynum had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Gasol also scored 13 to lead Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant finished with only 12 points.
After Durant clamped down on Bryant in the fourth quarter of the Thunder’s 101-96 win in Game 3, the matchup between the NBA’s youngest scoring champion and the 2008 MVP never materialized this time around.
Instead, both superstars were on the bench for the entire fourth quarter while lineups of mostly reserves toiled away with little more than the final margin at stake.
It was the Lakers’ largest playoff loss since the Celtics’ clinching 131-92 victory in Game 6 of the 2008 finals. Oklahoma City held a 50-43 rebounding edge and shot 20 more free throws — finishing 42 of 48.
There was plenty for another raucous Ford Center crowd to cheer about, with Oklahoma City adding to its lead throughout. A huge ovation followed when Eric Maynor converted a double-pumping 3-point play and when fellow rookie James Harden hit a 3-pointer moments later to push the advantage to 99-72, then hoisted three fingers over his head as he trotted back downcourt.
Trail Blazers 96, Suns 87 — Brandon Roy made a surprising return from knee surgery and scored 10 points, including a key 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, and host Portland evened its playoff series with Phoenix at two games apiece.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 31 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers, who unexpectedly activated Roy shortly before the game, eight days after he had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.
Roy didn’t start and played a relatively quiet 26 minutes, but hit a 3-pointer with 4:55 left that gave Portland an 85-79 lead and swung the momentum of a close game.
Magic 90, Bobcats 86 — Jameer Nelson scored 32 points and Orlando overcame Dwight Howard’s continuing foul trouble and a loud, towel-waving crowd in Charlotte, N.C., to take a commanding 3-0 series lead.
Howard played only 26 minutes and fouled out with 3:32 left. But Nelson had a key bucket down the stretch and backup center Marcin Gortat hit two free throws with 12 seconds left to put it away.
Stephen Jackson scored 19 points, but was 6 of 18 from the field and missed a key 3-pointer in the final minute for the Bobcats.
Bucks 107, Hawks 89 — John Salmons scored 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting and host Milwaukee never let up after a hot start.
Atlanta still leads the series 2-1 after two double-digit victories at home, when the Bucks looked overmatched without the injured Andrew Bogut.
But veteran Kurt Thomas had 8 points, 13 rebounds and four stitches, rookie Brandon Jennings added 13 points and Milwaukee proved that the Hawks may have to “Fear the Deer’’ after all. Joe Johnson scored 25 for Atlanta.