Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) - The Oklahoma City Thunder have the defending NBA champions reeling, and now their first-round series has come down to essentially a best-of-three format.
Kevin Durant poured in 22 points and the Thunder used a strong defensive performance in a 110-89 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers to even their Western Conference quarterfinal series after four games.
Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant was limited to 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting, and the Thunder surged by using a dominant first quarter and commanded a double- digit lead over the last three periods. That was helped by an astounding 42-of-48 showing at the foul line.
"A lot of people didn't expect us to be here," Durant said. "Once we got here, people were saying we'd be swept...a lot of different things. We knew what we're capable of. We can go far as a team. It's all on us. We control our own destiny at this point."
After losing the first two games in Los Angeles, the Thunder regrouped and was clearly energized by the home crowd. Fans adorned blue t-shirts for Game 3 on Thursday in a 101-96 win, and on Saturday it was a full-fledged whiteout at the Ford Center. The Lakers couldn't keep up with the Thunder, who are guaranteed another home game - next Friday.
"We didn't need this for our team to get our attention," Bryant said. "They have our attention. They just beat us, simple as that."
In order for the eighth-seeded Thunder to pull off the monumental upset of the defending NBA champions, they'll have to win at least once in Los Angeles, either Game 5 on Tuesday or possibly if it gets to a seventh game on May 2.
On Thursday, the Lakers scored the first 10 points. The Thunder made sure that wouldn't happen in Game 4. LA led twice, at 6-5 and 8-7. After that it was mostly downhill for Phil Jackson's team.
It was a one-point game with nearly five minutes left in the opening quarter, but then the Thunder scored 12 in a row. Russell Westbrook scored the first six, Serge Ibaka powered in for a put-back layup, Durant and James Harden each sank two foul shots for the big 27-14 lead with 1:15 left in the quarter.
It was odd in the sense that Bryant didn't attempt a field goal the entire opening quarter. His first shot came 2:54 into the second, a made three- pointer.
"I was managing the game exactly how I wanted to," Bryant said. "Unfortunately it got away from us by them getting out in transition and getting those buckets."
Ahead 29-17 after one period, the Thunder continued to use the fast break to their advantage. They finished the game with a 24-2 difference in those points.
"Coach emphasized for us getting out in transition and using our quickness. I think we did a good job with that," Westbrook said.
Oklahoma City went just 7-of-20 from the field in the second, but the Lakers never were able to make a big run. Westbrook hit four free throws in a span of 30 seconds, pushing the lead to 15 with 3:10 left in the half.
Durant went 1-of-2 at the foul line in the waning seconds of the half for a 55-42 margin and Oklahoma City's running offense was in full tilt in the third. Jeff Green's layup made it 71-51 midway through the period and it was 86-64 going to the fourth.
Jackson chose to rest four of his five starters for the entire final quarter with Andrew Bynum only seeing court time. Bryant said afterward he was getting treatment for in advance of a long flight back to Los Angeles.
Westbrook had 18 points, while Green and Harden each chipped in 15...Bynum scored 13 to go with 10 rebounds...Pau Gasol also scored 13 for the Lakers, who received 12 from Lamar Odom, 11 from Derek Fisher and 10 from Shannon Brown...LA was 4-of-22 from beyond the arc.