SAN ANTONIO — Kevin Durant scored 27 and the Thunder is on the brink of the NBA Finals, beating the Spurs 108-103 in Game 5 on Monday night and moving within a victory of a series knockout.
Russell Westbrook added 23 as Oklahoma City took a 3-2 lead in a wildly entertaining Western Conference final. Looking invincible while carrying 20-win streak a week ago, the Spurs have lost three straight and are on the verge of a stunning collapse.
"We played about as hard as we can play,'' Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "They are not an easy team to guard.''
Manu Ginobili scored 34 in a smashing return to the starting lineup. But trailing 106-103 and the Spurs down to their last shot, Ginobili missed an off-balance 3-pointer in the final seconds.
Game 6 is Wednesday night in Oklahoma City, where the Thunder can punch its ticket to the NBA Finals in the place it hasn't lost all postseason.
It's bringing home just what it needed: the must-win on the road if it's going to pull this series out.
It pulled it off behind its stars. James Harden scored 20, joining Durant and Westbrook as the only Thunder players in double figures.
Harden hit the biggest shot, a 3-pointer with 28.8 seconds left that pushed Oklahoma City's lead to five. He said the ball was supposed to go to Durant, but he had no choice but to let go with the shot clock winding down and Spurs rookie Kawhi Leonard in his face.
"The shot clock was running down and I had to make a play," Harden said. "Leonard was playing great defense on me. I just shot it with confidence. West Conference finals — that's a big shot."
Tony Parker had 20 points and Tim Duncan 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs.
After remaining unbeaten for 50 days before arriving in Oklahoma City, San Antonio has lost three games in five days. The Spurs now must win two straight to avoid seeing their last best chance to win a title in the Duncan era end.
"Championship teams win on the road," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Oklahoma City just did that."
It's the first time the Spurs have lost three in a row all season.
"That was a total team effort," Brooks said. "Everybody did their job. I thought we played as hard as we can play."
Durant scored 22 in the second half. Westbrook also had 12 assists.
Not wanting the series to slip away, Popovich moved Ginobili to the starting lineup in place of Danny Green, who came in shooting 8-of-28 in this series. It was the first start for Ginobili since March and eighth all season.
OKLAHOMA CITY (108): Durant 10-19 5-6 27, Ibaka 4-6 1-2 9, Perkins 1-4 2-2 4, Westbrook 9-24 5-5 23, Sefolosha 2-4 0-0 5, Collison 3-3 0-0 6, Harden 6-11 5-6 20, Fisher 2-6 2-2 6, Cook 3-3 0-0 8. Totals 40-80 20-23 108.
SAN ANTONIO (103): Leonard 1-4 2-2 4, Duncan 7-10 4-5 18, Diaw 2-5 0-0 5, Parker 5-14 10-12 20, Ginobili 11-21 7-8 34, Blair 1-1 0-0 2, Neal 0-6 2-2 2, Bonner 0-0 0-0 0, S.Jackson 5-9 0-0 13, Green 0-2 0-0 0, Splitter 2-2 1-2 5. Totals 34-74 26-31 103.
Oklahoma City 26 26 29 27— 108
San Antonio 21 23 28 31— 103
3-Point Goals—Oklahoma City 8-21 (Harden 3-4, Cook 2-2, Durant 2-6, Sefolosha 1-3, Fisher 0-2, Westbrook 0-4), San Antonio 9-24 (Ginobili 5-10, S.Jackson 3-6, Diaw 1-2, Parker 0-1, Leonard 0-1, Green 0-1, Neal 0-3). Fouled Out—Perkins. Rebounds—Oklahoma City 40 (Perkins 10), San Antonio 48 (Duncan 12). Assists—Oklahoma City 22 (Westbrook 12), San Antonio 23 (Ginobili 7). Total Fouls—Oklahoma City 25, San Antonio 25. Technicals—Perkins. A—18,581 (18,797).
BOSH MAY RETURN: The Heat upgraded forward/center Chris Bosh's status to "day-to-day," the first deviation by the team after more than three weeks of simply saying his absence was indefinite because of a strained lower abdominal muscle. Coach Erik Spoelstra wouldn't guarantee that Bosh plays in Game 5 tonight but indicated that he might.
AROUND THE LEAGUE: The Trail Blazers hired former Clippers GM Neil Olshey as general manager. The announcement came less than an hour after the Clippers announced that they had decided to part ways with Olshey. … Jim Fitzgerald, who owned the Bucks during a successful era in the early 1980s and went on to own the Warriors, died in Janesville, Wis. He was 86. … Wizards coach Randy Wittman signed a new deal despite going 18-31 after replacing Flip Saunders. … The Bobcats interviewed Lakers assistant coach Quin Snyder in Chicago about their head coaching vacancy, the Associated Press reported. … The Lakers exercised their $16.1 million contract option for next season on All-Star center Andrew Bynum.