Thunder 'transition' to conference finals

May, 22, 2012
5/22/12
3:30
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US Presswire Kevin Durant scores 25 points as the Thunder eliminate the Lakers from the postseason.

After a couple of scares in the Western Conference Semifinals, the Oklahoma City Thunder eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers, 4-1.

It’s the Thunder’s fifth straight home playoff win, which is their longest such streak since winning six straight in 2002.

Kevin Durant finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds for his sixth 25-10 playoff game over the last two seasons. That’s tied with Zach Randolph for most in the NBA during that stretch.

For the series, Durant averaged 26.8 points and Russell Westbrook, who scored 28 points in Game 5, averaged 25.6 in the series. It's just the fourth time teammates each averaged at least 25 points in a playoff series against the Lakers. Durant and Westbrook, however, are the only pair to lead their team to a series victory.

A big key to the Thunder’s success was that they outscored the Lakers by 13.8 transition points per game during the series, including by 17 in Game Five.

Westbrook (6.4), Durant (6.4) and James Harden (5.6) all averaged over five transition points per game in the series.

Despite the tight defense, Kobe Bryant did his best to keep the Lakers in Game Five.

His 42 points gave Bryant his 13th, 40-point playoff game, tying Wilt Chamberlain for fourth most all-time. It was the most points Bryant has ever scored in a playoff game when facing elimination.

Bryant accounted for 44.0 percent of the Lakers field goal attempts, but accounted for 52.9 percent of their made field goals in Game Five.

He did struggle however when guarded by Durant, especially in the fourth quarter this series.

Bryant shot 1-for-10 in that situation whereas he shot 41.7 percent (10-24) against all other Thunder defenders. Only two of Bryant's 34 fourth-quarter attempts were inside of five feet and both of those came against Harden.

This is the fifth time the Lakers were down 3-1 with Bryant and they have gone on to lose the series each time.

The Lakers loss means there are seven different teams who have more playoff wins than them over the last two seasons. That includes the Memphis Grizzlies and their longtime rival Boston Celtics.

The Thunder, meanwhile, advance to the Conference Finals for the second-straight season.

The only other time the franchise advanced to the Conference Finals in consecutive seasons was when they made three straight appearance from 1978-1980 as the Seattle SuperSonics.

Statistical support for this story from NBA.com.

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