OGTW: Durant, Westbrook and…Nick Collison Eliminate Clippers


What if you only had One Game To Watch? After years of following the Oklahoma City Thunder – hundreds of wins, buzzer-beating shots and historic moments – and you could only re-watch one game in Thunder history…which would it be? This week, our writers will answer that difficult question and relive some of their favorite memories. Their responses might surprise you. 

If you asked most basketball fans what they remember from the Oklahoma City Thunder’s series win over the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2014 Western Conference Semifinals, there would probably be just one answer: the Thunder’s comeback win in Game 5.

The Thunder overcame a 7-point deficit with under a minute remaining in the game. Of course, the biggest story of the comeback was the Chris Paul turnover that led to Reggie Jackson being stripped at the basket and the Thunder controversially getting the ball back. In case you forgot, Doc Rivers wasn’t exactly a huge fan of the call either.

But it’s the following game, in which Oklahoma City eliminated the Clippers in Los Angeles that I remember most. It was a classic Thunder win, with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant taking over late, and Nick Collison providing his usual gritty contributions.

The Thunder clinched the series 4-2 to advance to the Western Conference finals in this epic game. But after the way Game 5 ended, the national perception was that the Thunder should have been down 3-2…except they weren’t. Rivers couldn’t get over it, and the national media (specifically Inside the NBA on TNT) made it very clear that the Clippers should have been leading the series.

To start Game 6, it looked like the Clipeprs would ‘right the wrong’ so to speak, and roll to an easy victory to force a deciding Game 7.

The Thunder were immediately facing a double-digit deficit in the first quarter, and Durant seemed hesitant offensively. But then KD hit a 3-pointer; and another, and another. That was all he needed to spark a stat line of 39 points, 16 rebounds and 5 assists.

Early in the second half, the Thunder lost Serge Ibaka to a calf injury. The general feeling was that if he were out for an extended period of time, OKC would have had a very tough time winning a Game 7. But that’s the value of having role players who are always ready, and Collison was certainly ready when his number was called.

As usual, Collison’s impact can’t be seen on the stat sheet. He played 17 minutes (all in the second half), notching just 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, a block and a steal. Everything he did was timely, and in typical Nick Collison fashion, he drew a couple of key charging fouls.

As much as I loved what Collison did, it was really Durant and Westbrook that took the game over in the second half. It all kind of started with the Thunder down eight points midway through the third quarter when Durant drilled a nonchalant 30-footer like only he could.

But, once again, Collison came up with another big contribution. This time, he hit a 3-pointer as the third quarter expired and snatched the momentum from the Clippers. From then on, OKC was in control.

The fourth quarter was as satisfying as any I’ve watched as an Oklahoma City fan. The two best players on the floor (Durant and Westbrook) completely controlled the game. KD scored 11 points in the quarter, Westbrook finally got going offensively, and all the Clippers players and coaches could do was complain to the officials.

To make it even better, Collison essentially put the final nail in the Clippers’ coffin with a beautiful bounce pass to rookie Steven Adams.

Just days earlier, nobody but Oklahoma City fans believed the Thunder deserved to be up 3-2 to in the series. But in Game 6, the world was in awe of Durant and Westbrook as they eliminated the Clippers, and envious their team didn’t have a role player as reliable as Collison.

Next: Billy Donovan Must Manage Durant's Playing Time

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