SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Russell Westbrook couldn’t be stopped down the stretch, not even when the San Antonio Spurs were trying to foul him.
Westbrook had 35 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Spurs 95-91 on Tuesday night and take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
“We got stops and Russ was a maniac tonight, keeping us in it,” Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant said.
Durant added 23 points as the Thunder won for the second time in San Antonio in the series. Oklahoma City can close out the series Thursday in Game 6 at home.
“I hope we respond a little angry with a chip on our shoulder,” Spurs guard Danny Green said. “If you want to be a championship team you have to win on the road. Simple as that.”
But the Spurs have rallied from a 3-2 deficit only once in their prolific playoff history, winning the final two games in 2008 to defeat the then New Orleans Hornets.
After losing only once at home during the regular season, San Antonio has dropped two straight there now.
After Oklahoma City won Game 2 in San Antonio, the NBA acknowledged five incorrect non-calls in the final stretch. There were a couple calls the Spurs felt did not go their way in the final minutes Tuesday, but it was Westbrook who left no question of the outcome.
He sealed the victory with a three-point play with 6.3 seconds remaining, scoring after Kawhi Leonard was not able to foul intentionally, enabling him to drive for a layup while being fouled by LaMarcus Aldridge. Leonard said he “definitely fouled him” on the initial attempt, but Westbrook continued turning the corner and attacking the rim.
“He got away, attacked the rim and got an and-one,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “Very tough outcome. I didn’t watch the replay. I don’t know how emphatic the foul was, but it’s not the point. We should have arrived to that point in a better situation. For most of the game we were up. We had couple of opportunities to get a good lead. They made some tough shots and we couldn’t capitalize.”
San Antonio led 88-82 with 4 minutes remaining when Westbrook took over. He had seven points, two rebounds and an assist in the final 4 minutes.
“He dictated how we wanted to play,” Durant said. “He was getting to the rim, knocking down the jump shot, knocking down the 3. So he had all levels working tonight. Once he does that, he’s too dangerous because they play back on him not wanting him to get to the rim and he’s knocking the jump shot down.”
The Thunder took a 92-90 lead with 54 seconds remaining on a pair of free throws by Durant after Green fell into his legs when he appeared to be tripped by Steven Adams on an attempted screen.
Oklahoma City outrebounded San Antonio 54-36.
“The key was physicality,” Thunder forward Enes Kanter said. “Me and Steven just went and tried to get every rebound. It worked out well for both of us.”
Kanter had eight points and 13 rebounds, and Adams had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Westbrook settled in after an erratic first half in which he committed six of the Thunder’s 13 first-half turnovers. He only had two turnovers after halftime.
“I was overthinking the first half, overpassing trying to find ways to get my guys involved, making some bad mistakes,” Westbrook said. “In the second half I was trying to do a better job of taking care of the basketball, especially with the game on the line.”
Besides scoring at least 28 points for the fourth time in the series, the electrifying point guard had four offensive rebounds and two steals in 39 minutes.
The aggressive defense that brought Oklahoma City back into the series after an embarrassing Game 1 loss continued Tuesday night. The Thunder bodied the Spurs on the wings and then collapsed fully when San Antonio attempted to attack the lane.
Leonard had 26 points and Green added 20 points, going 6 for 9 shooting on 3-pointers. Aldridge added 20 points but shot just 6 for 21.
Thunder: Westbrook and Durant have both scored 25 or more points in the same contest in 33 postseason games. Elgin Baylor and Jerry West have the most combined playoff games of 25-plus at 50. Fellow Lakers greats Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant are tied for second at 33.
Spurs: Tim Duncan’s dunk with 2:58 left in the first half were his first points since a layup 31 seconds into the second half in Game 3. Duncan, who finished with five points, was held scoreless in Game 4 for the first time in 249 postseason games over a 19-year career. His 250 postseason games are nine shy of the record held by former Lakers guard Derek Fisher, and his 157 wins trail only Fisher’s 161.
Green said the foul he committed on Durant late was due to Adams’ tripping him, but he was not sure if it was intentional.
“I didn’t see the replay clear enough,” Green said. “I just know he does a good job setting screens for them. Sometimes the ref sees them, sometimes they don’t, but he gives a little extra, but that’s what he’s supposed to do. On that particular play, he did a good job of clearing me out.”