Coming off his worst performance in the playoffs, Kevin Durant couldn’t get his shots to fall again.
Then he caught a glimpse of his mother dancing around during a timeout and, like magic, the ball started going through the net.
Durant scored 39 points for his best offensive outing of the series, Russell Westbrook had his first playoff triple-double and the Oklahoma City Thunder advanced to the Western Conference finals with a 105-90 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 7 on Sunday in Oklahoma City.
“I knew she had those dance moves,” Durant said. “She used to do it all the time when I was young. She was having fun. I was glad to see that.”
Soon enough, he was having fun, too – and the Thunder are two-stepping into Texas for the franchise’s first appearance in the West finals since losing in the NBA finals in 1996 as the Seattle SuperSonics.
Game 1 against the Mavericks is Tuesday night in Dallas.
Durant, the NBA scoring champion the past two seasons, followed the lowest-scoring game of his two postseason appearances with one of his best. He heated up in the second quarter after the entertaining exchange with his mother, put the Thunder in control late in the third, then put it away with a pair of two-handed slams in the fourth.
“Durant is a special player, one of the best players in the NBA,” said Memphis star Zach Randolph, who scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. “The kid is a gym-rat, he works hard. He’s one of my favorite players. You’ve got to give him kudos and give him respect.”
Westbrook was at his all-around best with 14 points, matching his season high with 14 assists and producing extra possessions with 10 rebounds. It was only the fifth triple-double in a Game 7, according to information provided to the team by the Elias Sports Bureau. Larry Bird, Jerry West, James Worthy and Scottie Pippen also accomplished the feat.
Mike Conley scored 18 points to lead Memphis, which had never won a playoff game before this year and made a bid to become the first No. 8 seed to reach the West finals.
“We just believed we could play with anybody,” said Randolph, who had averaged 28.3 points and 14.7 rebounds in the Grizzlies’ three wins in the series.
Bulls beat Heat
Derrick Rose scored 28 points, Luol Deng contained LeBron James and the Chicago Bulls struck first in the Eastern Conference finals, pulling away to beat the Miami Heat 103-82 in Game 1 in Chicago.
The Bulls went on a 10-0 run midway through the third quarter, then pulled away in the fourth.
Carlos Boozer added 14 points and nine rebounds. Joakim Noah had 14 rebounds and the Bulls pounded the Heat on the glass, 45-33.
Chris Bosh led Miami with 30 points and nine rebounds. Dwyane Wade scored 18 points.