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Thunder strike first, Pacers pound Knicks

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma: Kevin Durant scored 12 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter Sunday as Oklahoma City rallied for a 93-91 win over Memphis in Game 1 of their second round NBA Western Conference playoff series.
Durant delivered the Thunder’s final three baskets from the floor, including a go-ahead jump shot with 11.1 seconds remaining that gave Oklahoma City a 91-90 lead.
Oklahoma City’s Derek Fisher had stolen the ball from the Grizzlies’ Mike Conley to give Durant the chance.
David West scored 20 points as the visiting Indiana Pacers rallied from a first-quarter deficit to beat the New York Knicks 102-95 in the opener of their NBA second round playoff series on Sunday.
“We made a good defensive play,” Durant said of the sequence. “They have such a great team defense, I just wanted to get up as quick as possible and find a shot. That was the only shot I could find.
“My teammates did a great job of setting me up all game,” Durant added. “I missed some easy ones ... I was able to hit that one.”
Reggie Jackson made two free throws to stretch the lead to 93-90 with 2.9 seconds left.
But Jackson then fouled Quincy Pondexter as he attempted a three-pointer, giving Pondexter a chance to tie it from the free-throw line.
Pondexter missed the first of his three foul shots, with less than two seconds to play. “I told Reggie when he made those free throws, ‘We have got to get a stop. You hitting two free throws, it’s all good and congratulations — but we’ve got to get a stop right here,’” Durant said.
“And it kind of went in our favor. We fouled them with a three and they missed a free throw.”
Oklahoma City will host game two of the best-of-seven series on Tuesday.
The Thunder trailed by as many as 12 in the second half, but Durant — second to Miami’s LeBron James in the Most Valuable Player voting announced on Sunday — kept them in it, finishing with game highs in points and in rebounds with 15 and assists with six.
Kevin Martin came off the bench to score 25 points for the second straight game, after helping the Thunder oust the Houston Rockets in game six of their first-round series. Jackson finished with 12 points on four-of-eight shooting from the field.
Memphis, who won four straight games to climb out of an 0-2 hole and eliminate the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round, had double-doubles from Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
Spain’s Gasol, the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds — but committed a costly turnover just after Durant had put the Thunder ahead with 11.1 seconds left.
Randolph scored 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Both teams were playing on short rest, after wrapping up their first-round series on Friday. The Thunder had to do it on the road in Houston, while Memphis polished off the Clippers at home.
The second Western Conference second-round series starts on Monday, when the San Antonio Spurs host the Golden State Warriors.
In New York, all five starters finished in double figures for the Pacers, who played with an edge but kept their composure to bring back memories of the Indiana teams of the 1990s that battled hard against their New York Eastern Conference rivals.
“We did a good job of taking advantage of our shots and finishing around the rim,” said power forward West of the Pacers, who outrebounded the Knicks 44-30. “We were attacking, we were aggressive.” The Pacers squared off against the Knicks three consecutive years beginning with the 1993 post-season then again between 1998-2000. Center Roy Hibbert finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and five blocks in the best-of-seven series.
Paul George had 19 points and D.J. Augustin scored 16 points in just under 13 minutes of playing time for the Pacers, who knocked off the Atlanta Hawks in six games in the first round.
“Just a strong defensive effort and then offensively the guys played with great poise,” said Indiana coach Frank Vogel.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks in scoring but shot just 10-of-28 from the field. He finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds for New York, who are in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2000. Guard Raymond Felton finished with 18 points on eight-of-12 shooting from the field.
That season, New York reached the NBA semi-finals before losing to the Pacers in six games.
The Knicks led 27-22 heading into the second quarter but saw that lead disappear in the second as the Pacers seized a 52-46 point lead at halftime.
Anthony, who picked up his fourth foul in the third, scored six consecutive baskets to start the fourth and get the Knicks to within 81-71.
But back-to-back field goals by Tyler Hansbrough pushed the Pacers’ lead back to 14 and New York never seriously threatened again.