Westbrook stars as Thunder stun Warriors


Oakland: Russell Westbrook inspired a second-half fightback as the Oklahoma City Thunder came from behind to beat the Golden State Warriors 108-102 in the opening game of the Western Conference finals on Monday.

Westbrook poured on 27 points as the Thunder overturned a 60-47 halftime deficit to snatch victory in a pulsating clash between two of the most potent attacking units in the NBA.

Westbrook also chipped in with 12 assists and six rebounds while team-mate Kevin Durant finished with 26 points as the visitors silenced the Golden State home crowd at the Oracle Arena.

Golden State looked to be sprinting away to a one-sided victory after blasting into a commanding early in the first half, converting a series of rash Oklahoma City turnovers into points.

NBA MVP Stephen Curry — who finished with 26 points — rubbed salt into the wound on the stroke of half-time with a trademark long-range three-pointer to give the Warriors a 13-point lead.

But the Thunder re-emerged after the halftime interval a different side, with Westbrook leading the charge to slash the Warriors’ advantage with a virtuoso third quarter performance.

Westbrook piled up 19 points in the third quarter to help put the Thunder within three points of the Warriors at 88-85 heading into the fourth quarter.

With Oklahoma City’s defense successfully neutralizing the threat posed by Curry, it was left to Durant and Westbrook to take control.

Oklahoma City opened up a 101-93 lead in the final few minutes but the reigning NBA finals champion Warriors clawed their way back to within one point at 101-100.

Just when it looked as if Golden State were poised to pull off another Houdini act, the Thunder regrouped and edged clear once more.

The visitors received a fortunate call when Westbrook avoided being called for traveling at 105-102 with 17 seconds remaining, and three more points sealed the win as time ran out for the Warriors.

Game Two in the best of seven series takes place in Oakland on Wednesday.