Thunder put Spurs on brink of elimination

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Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison (4) dunks against San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan during the first half of Game 5 in the NBA basketball Western Conference finals, Monday, June 4, 2012 in San Antonio. AP/ERIC GAY

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The Oklahoma City Thunder are on the verge of reaching the NBA finals after beating San Antonio 108-103 with 27 points from Kevin Durant in game five of their Western Conference series.

Oklahoma City lost the first two games of the series but have stormed back to win three straight and now lead the Spurs three games to two.

The Thunder can wrap up the series with a win in game six Wednesday in Oklahoma City.

Durant scored 22 of his points in the second half while Russell Westbrook finished with 23 points and 12 assists for the Thunder, who are trying to advance to the franchise’s first NBA finals since 1996.

James Harden drained a key three-pointer from 24 feet out with 28 seconds left and the Thunder held on for the win. Harden scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth.

Manu Ginobili scored 34 in a smashing return to the starting lineup. But trailing 106-103 and the Spurs down to their last shot, Ginobili missed an off-balance 3-pointer in the final seconds.

Oklahoma City pulled it off behind their stars. James Harden scored 20, joining Durant and Westbrook as the only Thunder players in double figures.

Harden hit the biggest shot, draining a 3-pointer with 28.8 seconds left that pushed Oklahoma City’s lead to five. He admitted afterward that the ball was supposed to go to Durant but had no choice but to let go with the shot clock winding down and Spurs rookie Kawhi Leonard in his face.

“The shot clock was running down and I had to make a play,” Harden said. “Leonard was playing great defense on me. I just shot it with confidence. West Conference finals — that’s a big shot.”

Tony Parker had 20 points and Tim Duncan had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs.

Originally posted at 12:20 pm | Tuesday, June 5, 2012

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