Thunder trust in Durant to ward off 4th quarter blues

By Jahmal Corner (Reuters) - Fourth-quarter slip-ups have been the bane of Oklahoma City's championship tilt this season but the Thunder may have found a way to avoid them: just give the ball to Kevin Durant. Durant dominated possessions and tallied 17 of his playoff high-tying 41 points in the final phase on Sunday as the Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs 111-97 to square their Western Conference semi-final series at 2-2. The Thunder have blown 16 fourth-quarter leads this season under first-year coach Billy Donovan, including one in Game Three against the Spurs on Friday. Athletic and free-flowing through the first three quarters of games, Oklahoma City often get bogged down in the final period where point guard Russell Westbrook has sometimes been guilty of making questionable decisions. Durant made sure there would be no late let down on Sunday. "He was fantastic down the stretch in the fourth quarter,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich told reporters. “Give him credit, he was great.” With the Thunder trailing 2-1 in the series, there was talk that Sunday's Game Four could be the last in Oklahoma City for impending free agent Durant. Victory ensured there would be at least one more. “I know at any moment I can go off and hit a few shots. Shots were going in (tonight),” Durant told reporters. “My team mates set great screens and I was just moving around. If I stay stationary I’m easy to guard.” Durant, a four-time NBA scoring champion and 2014 league MVP, said the Thunder would face a fired up Spurs team in San Antonio for Game Five on Tuesday. “(The Spurs) are the best defense in the last 15 years,” Durant said. “We have to move our bodies and use our athleticism and length. “We know they’ll come at us hard in San Antonio, and we have to be prepared for it.” (Editing by Peter Rutherford)