Clippers rally past Thunder late to pull even in series

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LOS ANGELES — After being thoroughly outplayed for over 40 minutes, the Los Angeles Clippers fought back.

Leading the way was a player not known for coming up big in the clutch.

Darren Collison scored eight of his 18 points in the final 2:58, rallying the Clippers past the Oklahoma City Thunder 101-99 on Sunday to tie the Western Conference semifinal series 2-2.

“Even though we didn’t play well throughout the game, we were able to get a win,” Collison said. “That feels more impressive than anything we did.”

Russell Westbrook, who scored 27 points, missed a 3-pointer and Serge Ibaka’s tip attempt was too late at the buzzer, allowing the Clippers to salvage a game they trailed until the final 1:23.

“It was a good look,” Westbrook said. “Just didn’t go in.”

Blake Griffin led Los Angeles with 25 points, making 9 of 11 free throws. Jamal Crawford added 18 points. DeAndre Jordan had 14 rebounds, helping the Clippers win the boards, 45-43 — the first time in 11 playoff games the Thunder were outrebounded.

“We just willed this one. We found a way,” said Chris Paul, who had 23 points and 10 assists.

Kevin Durant scored 40 points, hitting 15 of 18 free throws, for the Thunder.

“We let this one slip away,” he said. “We could have took control of the series.”

Game 5 is Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.

“We were almost on the mat and we got off of it. We didn’t get pinned,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “They’re seething right now. They had an opportunity to go up 3-1 and now it’s an even series.”

It was the 14th comeback — and largest yet — by the Clippers this season after trailing by double digits. They rallied from 12 points down in the second quarter of Game 7 to oust Golden State in the first round.

“This is one of the best ones yet,” Paul said. “Darren Collison was amazing. You just got to love a guy like that who plays with so much heart and never gives up.”

The Clippers had no answer for Durant and Westbrook until midway through the fourth quarter. That dynamic duo drove the lane with abandon, drew fouls and made free throws in leading the Thunder to an early 22-point lead.

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