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Durant helps Thunder storm to victory over Clippers

(The Sport Xchange) - Forward Kevin Durant scored 36 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers 118-112 in Game Three of their Western Conference semi-finals series on Friday.

The victory moved the Thunder into a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and after being blown out by 17 points in the opener, Oklahoma City have rallied well to take the initiative going into Sunday's Game Four in Los Angeles.

"We knew that this team is a really great passing team and in the first game they picked us apart," Durant told reporters.

"I think we did a good job of weathering the storm throughout the game (tonight) and sticking together and we're going to have to do that even more next game if we want to win. It's going to be probably the toughest game of the series."

Point guard Russell Westbrook scored 23 points and dished out 13 assists for the Thunder. He also had eight rebounds, just missing his fourth triple-double of the playoffs.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin scored 34 points, pulled down eight rebounds and had three blocks for Los Angeles, who lost for the first time in 36 games when carrying a lead into the fourth quarter at home.

They led 90-86 at the final break.

Point guard Chris Paul had 21 points and 16 assists for Los Angeles, while guard Jamal Crawford came off the bench to score 20 points.

Oklahoma City held a 106-101 lead with four minutes remaining in the game after a put-back dunk by forward Serge Ibaka, who finished with 20 points and six rebounds.

Griffin had cut the Thunder's lead to 108-107 with 2:23 remaining but a Westbrook three-pointer and a Durant jumper gave Oklahoma City a 113-107 advantage with 1:23 left, a margin too great for Los Angeles to overcome.

Both teams shot well from the free throw line, with the Thunder converting 24-of-28 attempts (85.7 percent) compared to 21-of-24 (84 percent) for the Clippers.

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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