OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma City Thunder were 12 minutes away from the NBA Finals, holding an eight-point lead as the fourth quarter began. But while Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook struggled to engineer consistent offense, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry took over to carry the Golden State Warriors to a 108-101 victory on Saturday night, forcing a Game 7 in the Western Conference finals.
Durant struggled from tipoff, finishing with 29 points on 10-of-31 shooting, while also having some critical turnovers late. Andre Iguodala used his hands to disrupt Durant's ability to drive or even pull up for jumpers.
It was an old, ugly problem that crept up on the Thunder, with their fourth-quarter offense stalling into my-turn-your-turn between Durant and Westbrook, with most possessions featuring only a pass or two. The Thunder tried to force-feed the ball to Durant, but with the Warriors loaded up on him and no other non-Westbrook players being made available, the Thunder couldn't score. Westbrook had 28 points on 10-of-27 shooting, plus nine rebounds and 11 assists. Serge Ibaka had 13 points, but had only one in the second half. Andre Roberson had 11 points, largely on putbacks.
Meanwhile, the Warriors looked like their old selves again, using half-transition opportunities to get loose from the perimeter. Thompson was simply sensational, with 41 points, hitting a playoff record 11-of-18 from 3, while it was Curry who had a couple of dagger shots himself, the league MVP finishing with 31 points. The Warriors hit 21-of-44 from 3, and only 15-of-43 from inside the arc.
A number of times the Thunder had opportunities to stretch their lead, but they were unable to either hold off Thompson or take advantage on the offensive end. Foul trouble also hurt the Thunder, with defensive specialist Roberson hampered by it for most of the game, which helped free Thompson.
If you're looking for an appropriate descriptor of Game 6, "combat" comes to mind. Both teams were locked in a physical, difficult, emotional battle for 48 minutes, slugging it out for every rebound, every loose ball and every opportunity to gain an inch. Which leads us to Game 7. It's this Monday, and the Warriors will clearly carry all the momentum in the world back to Oakland, California, with them. The Thunder played this one as if it were their Game 7, knowing it was almost a do-or-die situation, potentially facing a closeout game on the road.
But they still have a shot. It's one more game for the NBA Finals. The Thunder were 12 minutes away. Now, they're a very long 48 from it.