Thunder Claims Division Title, Home Court Advantage
Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:19 pm
By: News On 6
Originally Published: Apr 6, 2011 9:1 PM CDTGrant Belcher
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Thunder will soon be able to hang their first banner from the rafters in the Oklahoma City Arena.
OKC clinched the Northwest Division title with a 112-108 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.
It also secured home court advantage for the Thunder in their first round playoff series, where they are currently sitting in the No. 4 spot and, if the playoffs started today, would take on the Denver Nuggets.
OKC decided to once again make the end of the game interesting, allowing the Clippers to pull to within two on a Blake Griffin dunk with 23 seconds to play.
Kevin Durant was fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass but knocked down just 1-of-2 to leave the door open.
Griffin responded with a free throw of his own, but Durant was fouled again and this time connected on the pair to put the game out of reach.
Oklahoma City got itself into a bit of trouble early in the game, trailing 20-10 after nearly eight minutes.
The Thunder rallied back in the second quarter, outscoring the Clippers by 10 points in the quarter to take a lead into halftime. OKC never trailed in the second half despite the scare it got.
Durant scored 28 to lead the Thunder, in the meantime accumulating the second highest point total in league history for the first four seasons of a career (behind LeBron James).
Russell Westbrook added 24 with seven rebounds and seven assists. Kendrick Perkins set a season high once again with 17 rebounds.
Former Sooner and OCS forward Blake Griffin had a huge night with 35 points on 15-of-20 shooting, 11 rebounds and six assists.
Despite the Clippers’ sub-.500 record, OKC actually split the season series with L.A. at two games apiece.
With a playoff spot, home court advantage and a division title wrapped up, Oklahoma City has four games left to boost their win total and make a run at a higher seed before the playoffs.
The Thunder are now one game back from the Dallas Mavericks for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference after Dallas lost to Denver on Wednesday.
If OKC and Dallas were to end up tied in the final standings, the Thunder would win that tiebreaker and the No. 3 seed thanks to being a division champion, whereas Dallas is behind the Spurs in their division.
The final stretch for Oklahoma City will start with a home game against Denver on Friday at 7 p.m.