Kevin Durant stood before his adoring home crowd, proudly holding his MVP trophy above his head during a pregame ceremony. He spent the next few hours showing how he earned it.
Durant had 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers 112-101 on Wednesday night to tie their Western Conference semifinal series at one game apiece.
"We wanted to come back and respond," Durant said. "So, I think that's what fueled the team. We just went out there and played extremely well and left it all out there."
During his emotional MVP acceptance speech on Tuesday, Durant called teammate Russell Westbrook an MVP-caliber player. Westbrook backed up Durant's words with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his third triple-double in his past five playoff games.
"I think Russ played harder than all of us combined," Clippers guard Chris Paul said. "He was all over the place."
Thunder coach Scott Brooks took Durant out of the game with 1:21 left, costing him a shot at the triple-double. According to information provided by the Elias Sports Bureau, no pair of teammates has had triple-doubles in the same playoff game.
J.J. Redick scored 18 points and Paul had 17 points and 11 assists for the Clippers. Los Angeles made 15 of 29 3-pointers in Game 1 but just 9 of 27 in Game 2.
Pacers 86, Wizards 82: After 48 hours of questions and criticism, Roy Hibbert scored a season-high 28 points, grabbed nine rebounds, blocked two shots and altered a handful of others to help Indiana get even in the Eastern Conference semifinals with a victory over Washington.
Hibbert sounded more relieved than redeemed.
"David (West) always talks to me about being the person that rescues yourself when you're in the middle of the ocean," Hibbert said after the Pacers tied the best-of-seven series at 1-1. "There's nobody who can throw a lifesaver or a rope out to help you. So I had to do it myself."
Hibbert went into Wednesday with a combined total of 37 points and 24 rebounds in Indiana's first eight playoff games. Twice in the previous four he failed to score a point or grab a rebound.
Beleaguered Pacers fans wanted Hibbert benched. Frustrated teammates talked publicly and privately about needing more from their 7-foot-2 center.
Executive of the Year: San Antonio Spurs general manager RC Buford was named NBA Executive of the Year, the first such honor of his well-respected, under-the-radar career. Buford received nine first-place votes and 58 points. Phoenix's Ryan McDonough (47) finished second.
Sterling: Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling said she intends to keep ownership of the team in her family, despite the NBA's move to oust her estranged husband, Donald Sterling, ESPN.com reported. Shelly Sterling has been a co-owner of the Clippers with her husband since 1981 and is one of two alternate governors. She has hired attorney Pierce O'Donnell to represent her interests.