WestbrookKevin Durant scored 39 points, 21 more than any other player, and Russell Westbrook registered a triple-double as the Oklahoma City Thunder advanced to the Western Conference Finals. Durant's 39 points were two shy of his postseason career high and, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the most by a player in his first career Game 7 since Dominique Wilkins scored 47 in a losing effort against the Boston Celtics in the 1988 Eastern Confernce Semifinals.
Prior to Sunday, we hadn't seen a player score as many as 39 points in a Game 7 since since LeBron James scored 45 and Paul Pierce scored 41 when the Boston Celtics beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Durant's performance is all the more impressive when you consider he was held to just 11 points in Game 6, the fewest he'd scored in any game in more than two years. Critics slammed Durant for settling for jumpshots in Game 6 after he finished with no field goal attempts inside 10 feet. On Sunday, Durant attacked the basket from start to finish, attempting 10 field goals from inside 10 feet.
Most Points in Game 7 Debut
Perhaps the only player to have a better day than Durant on Sunday was Russell Westbrook, who posted 14 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds. He became the sixth different player to reach those totals in a playoff game in the last 20 seasons, joining Jason Kidd (three times), Rajon Rondo (three times), Magic Johnson (twice), Chris Paul (twice) and Michael Jordan (once).
Westbrook's triple-double was just the fifth in a Game 7 in NBA history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, and the first since Scottie Pippen recorded 17 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds vs the New York Knicks in the 1992 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Players with a triple-double in a Game 7 are now 4-1 in those games, with their only loss coming when Jerry West's monster effort wasn't enough to get the Los Angeles Lakers by the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the 1969 NBA Finals.
The Thunder will face the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals after the Mavericks wrapped up a sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers one week ago. Elias tells us that a team coming off a four-game sweep has faced a team coming off of a seven-game series 12 times in NBA history. The more-rested team has won that series in nine of the previous 12 occasions.