Kevin Durant stood before his adoring home crowd, proudly holding his MVP trophy above his head during a pregame ceremony.
He spent the next few hours showing how he earned it.
Durant had 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers 112-101 on Wednesday night to tie their Western Conference semifinal series at one game apiece.
“We wanted to come back and respond,” Durant said. “So, I think that’s what fueled the team tonight. We just went out there and played extremely well and left it all out there, and came out with a good ‘W.'”
During his emotional MVP acceptance speech on Tuesday, Durant called teammate Russell Westbrook an MVP-caliber player. Westbrook backed up Durant’s words with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his third triple-double in his past five playoff games.
“I think Russ played harder than all of us combined,” Clippers guard Chris Paul said. “He was all over the place.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks took Durant out of the game with 1:21 remaining, costing him a shot at the triple-double. According to information provided to the Thunder by the Elias Sports Bureau, no pair of teammates has had triple-doubles in the same playoff game.
Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha each scored 14 points for the Thunder, who shot 51 percent from the field and outrebounded the Clippers 52-36.
“It was the perfect storm,” Clippers guard Jamal Crawford said. “They did everything they could to win, and they got everything they wanted tonight. That wasn’t the Clippers team we’ve been and I’m sure we’ll get back on track.”
J.J. Redick scored 18 points, Paul had 17 points and 11 assists, and Blake Griffin added 15 points for the Clippers. Los Angeles made 15 of 29 3-pointers in Game 1, but just 9 of 27 in Game 2.
The Clippers will host Game 3 Friday in Los Angeles.