Russell Westbrook delivered a championship-caliber effort to get the Oklahoma City Thunder back on level terms in the Western Conference finals.
Westbrook had 40 points, 10 assists and five steals in a 105-92 victory over the San Antonio Spurs 105-92 that levelled the series at 2-2.
It matched the second-highest playoff point total of Westbrook’s career, falling short of the 43 he scored in the 2012 NBA Finals.
He shot 50 percent from the field and took just five three-pointers, whilst he made 14 of 14 free throws.
Kevin Durant scored 31 points, his highest-scoring game of the series after the NBA’s leading scorer was held to a 22.7-point average in the first three games.
Serge Ibaka added nine points and eight rebounds for the Thunder, who have turned around the series since he returned from an injury that was expected to keep him out for the rest of the postseason.
Boris Diaw had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Tony Parker added 14 points for the Spurs, who blew a 2-0 lead against the Thunder in this round two years ago and are in danger of doing it again. San Antonio will host Game 5 and won’t be worried about the past.
Dominated from start
Oklahoma City dominated for the second consecutive game after getting blown out in the first two. The Thunder committed just seven turnovers and shot 49 percent from the field.
The Spurs scored the first eight points of the game, but things went downhill from there. A steal and dunk by Westbrook gave the Thunder a 42-32 lead with just under five minutes left in the first half. Back-to-back three-pointers by Durant pushed Oklahoma City’s lead to 50-36.
The Thunder led 58-43 at halftime. Durant scored 22 points and Westbrook added 17 points, eight assists and four steals before the break.
“We were just not focused coming out,” Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard said.
“We’re not playing consistently throughout the whole game. We’re playing in spurts or increments. We’ve just got to play the whole game.”
The Thunder still need to win on the road to win the series.