Westbrook notched a triple-double and Durant was an assist away from doing the same, and the Oklahoma City Thunder used a huge second half to put away the Los Angeles Clippers, 112-101, to tie the series at one game apiece.
Westbrook earns a triple-double (31 pts, 10 reb, 10 asst) as OKC takes down LAC 112-101! KD added 32 pts & 12 rebs pic.twitter.com/DxYCBXY2zG— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 8, 2014
He ended up bringing a non-stop 41 minutes of aggression, giving the Clippers fits all night on his way to 31 points on 13-of-22 shooting, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and three steals.
Russell Westbrook has 3 triple-doubles in his last 5 games. That's a lot of triple-doubles to have in a 5-game span.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) May 8, 2014
Durant was nearly identical, tallying 32 points on 10-of-22 shooting, 12 rebounds, nine assists and two steals, as the Thunder shot 50.6 percent from the field and outscored Los Angeles by 12 points in the third quarter to coast to the big victory.
The MVP was an assist away from setting playoff history:
KD (32pts, 12rbs, 9asts) & Russ (31, 10 & 10) narrowly miss becoming 1st set of teammates w/ triple-doubles in 1 playoff game(h/t @NBAonTNT)— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) May 8, 2014
Chris Paul followed up his magnificent Game 1 with 17 points and 11 assists, and J.J. Redick added 18, but Blake Griffin struggled from the field (5-of-13) and DeAndre Jordan spent much of the second half in foul trouble.
It actually started well for the Clippers. But after a back-and-forth start to the first quarter saw them hold an 18-16 lead at the 6:13 mark, Durant took over.
Durantula hit his next four shots as part of a 9-0 run all by himself, ultimately finishing with 17 in the quarter as the Thunder jumped out to a 37-28 advantage after 12 minutes.
ESPN Stats & Info gave a look at his shot chart:
While Durant followed that up with just four points—all on free throws—in the second period, Westbrook chipped in nine, as the duo combined for 40 of the Thunder's 61 first-half points.
17 of Russell Westbrook's 19 first-half points came on plays that he didn't pass before shooting. #OneManShow— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 8, 2014
Los Angeles, meanwhile, stayed close behind a balanced effort.
Redick led the way with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, but Paul had nine and six assists, Matt Barnes hit a couple of three-pointers and Glen Davis added eight in just six minutes off the bench.
The latter, which was especially key in helping the Clippers stay within five at the break, was right in line with Paul's pre-game praise of the second unit, via the team's official Twitter feed:
Still, both Jamal Crawford and and Darren Collison struggled from the field, and while Paul, the Game 1 star, wasn't nearly as flammable shooting the ball, ESPN's Kevin Pelton noted his immense impact prior to intermission:
The Clippers have been outscored by 17 points in the 8 minutes Chris Paul has spent on the bench.— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) May 8, 2014
The third quarter belonged to the Thunder.
Behind a much more balanced effort—Kendrick Perkins began the half with a jumper, Thabo Sefolosha had 12 points, Serge Ibaka added a couple of buckets—the Thunder were able to extend the lead to 17 points by the end of the period.
That's not to say Westbrook still wasn't making a massive impact. The explosive point guard did whatever he wanted, causing havoc on defense and getting to the rim at will on offense. Perpetually locked into fired-up mode, he tallied six points, two assists, three rebounds (two offensive), two steals and a bevy of energy plays to help push things into blowout territory.
ESPN's J.A. Adande summed it up:
Westbrook gulping for air with his whole body during the breaks, and never going below 60 mph when the ball's in play.— J.A. Adande (@jadande) May 8, 2014
The fourth quarter was mostly a formality, as Westbrook and Durant were too much to handle down the stretch and the Clippers were never able to cut the lead under 10.
For two games that have totaled 28 points in margin of victory, this has been a fascinating series. There have been three MVP-caliber individual performances—only one of which has come from the actual MVP—and some scintillating offensive displays.
Who will lead the series when the teams return to Oklahoma City for Game 5?
While the Clippers will feel good about returning to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Friday with the series tied, they will need Griffin, who finished third in regular season MVP voting, to recover from a forgettable night.
If the Thunder continue to shoot 50 percent from the field, control the offensive glass and get these kinds of nights from their stars, though, it may not matter.
Either way, the excitement will inevitably increase as the games get closer down the stretch.