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Westbrook, Durant lift Thunder over Spurs

OKC-SPURSOKLAHOMA CITY, May 28- Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for 71 points Tuesday to lift Oklahoma City to a 105-92 victory over San Antonio that tied their NBA playoff series at two games each.

The Thunder pulled level in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals with their second straight home win, after the Spurs had taken a 2-0 lead with two big victories on their home floor.

San Antonio will try to regain the advantage when they host game five on Thursday.

The winners of the series will face either two-time defending NBA champions Miami or Indiana in the NBA finals.

With the win, the Thunder have recalled the 2012 Western Conference finals, in which the Spurs won the first two games at home only to drop the next four contests to a young, hungry Oklahoma City team.

“We’re not even thinking about 2012,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We’ve moved on from that.”

But Brooks was pleased that his team withstood a fast start by the Spurs, shooting 50.8 percent from the field over the first three quarters to build a substantial lead, one aided by a staggering 21-0 advantage in fastbreak points

“That was one of our keys going into this series,” Brooks said of the transition game. “We played with great toughness tonight.”

This year the Thunder were buoyed in the third game by the return of Serge Ibaka from a left calf injury, and by the dominance of Westbrook and NBA Most Valuable Player Durant on their home floor.

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Westbrook finished with 40 points, 10 assists, five steals and five rebounds, while Durant scored 31 points on just 22 shots from the field.

San Antonio point guard Tony Parker scored 14 points, while the other two-thirds of the Spurs’ “Big Three” — Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili — totaled 14 points on 5-of-16 shooting.

Boris Diaw added 14 points with 10 rebounds off the bench for the Spurs, who are trying to get back to the NBA finals a year after falling in seven games to Miami in the championship series.

Kawhi Leonard scored six of his 10 points in the first two minutes of the game as the Spurs raced to a quick 8-0 lead.

The Thunder kept their composure, even though starting guard Reggie Jackson rolled his ankle and limped to the locker room midway through the opening quarter.

Oklahoma City turned up the intensity and ended the frame on a 13-2 surge.

Steven Adams’ awkward jump hook in the lane gave the hosts their first lead at 19-18, and it was one they never relinquished.

The margin was 26-20 after 12 minutes and stretched to 34-24 four minutes into the second following Ibaka’s fastbreak dunk off a Westbrook steal.

Durant scored eight points in a 1:02 span later in the quarter with a pair of three- pointers and a jump shot as the thunder took a 58-43 lead at halftime.

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– Popovich disappointed –

“I was disappointed in our physicality tonight,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

A 12-0 scoring run put the Thunder in firm control in the second half.

Westbrook’s dunk capped the flurry and gave Oklahoma City a game-high 27-point lead at 76-49 with less than five minutes to play in the third quarter.

None of San Antonio’s starters played a minute in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve got to be way smarter and sharper,” said San Antonio’s Ginobili. “If we let them push us around and we’re not strong with the ball, that’s when they get us on our heels and we stop attacking the way we do.

“The first two games we were really sharp, after that we kind of stopped and in both games here (in Oklahoma City) they just out-played us.”

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