Game 6 grades: Kevin Durant plays like an MVP, Westbrook follows suit

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook woke up in the 2nd half to power OKC past the Clippers. And what's that? A Nick Collison sighting???

The Thunder are moving on to the Western Conference Finals after defeating the Los Angeles Clippers in game 6. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook led the charge in a comeback that took them from 16 points down to the door of San Antonio, where they will meet the Spurs next week. Here is how each player helped get the job done!

Game 1 grades

Game 2 grades

Game 3 grades

Game 5 grades

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Durant_medium

KEVIN DURANT GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game stats)
44 39 16 5 2 0 5 +6
JUAN Grade_aplus_medium
Kevin Durant was the best player in this series and he showed why last night. When the game started, I'm sure most fans thought this would be another Durant off night and Westbrook would have to take over, but Durant locked in and knocked down 3 triples in the second quarter and that carried over into the second half. His scoring was great, but his charge on Blake Griffin and his activity on the boards were even better. Durant showed why he was named the MVP last night, and now he needs to show the Spurs.
CHRIS Grade_aplus_medium
Kevin Durant looked like he was about to have another off night, and with Westbrook not looking ready to carry him, things were bleak. Then he remembered he was the MVP and went absolutely bananas in quarters 2-4, going 11-for-16 for 36 points in that stretch. His Slim Reaper 3-pointer to put OKC up 87-80 late in the fourth may have been his nastiest moment, but I loved the rebound he pulled in with 24 seconds left and OKC up 99-93, that finally thwarted any comeback hopes once and for all. 16 rebounds total for the game was a classic "I got this" performance.

Westbrook_medium

RUSSELL WESTBROOK GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game stats)
39 19 3 12 0 2 5 +12
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium
Off games are part of the game and Russell Westbrook had an off shooting game on Thursday. That, however, did not stop Westbrook from playing his reckless style and continued to push the pace and started to get his teammates involved. That opened up Durant's game and even got guys like Thabo Sefolosha and Reggie Jackson to hit shots. Westbrook was a little out of control at times and let the officiating affect his defense, but all-in-all, it was nice to see Westbrook play even harder despite his shots not going through the net.
CHRIS Grade_bplus_medium
That's a grade based on what I think is acceptable to the public. Personally? I think he gets an A+. He didn't have it shooting, but he never let that get him down. Seems like we have this conversation about Russ time and again, but his ability to keep his foot on the gas, and pull it off and distribute when needed, is uncanny. He had his moments, but he controlled the offense, orchestrated movement, made some huge passes in the second half to set up the comeback. He also shot free throws well once again, something that's becoming more and more of a weapon for him.
Sefolosha_medium

THABO SEFOLOSHA GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game stats)
13 5 2 0 0 0 0 -9
JUAN Grade_cplus_medium
Thabo Sefolosha really had a tough time staying with J.J. Redick through those screens all series long and J.J. torched him last night, especially at the beginning of the game. Sefolosha is now going to have to deal with Tony Parker going through screens. That makes me sweaty, but he's the best option for the Thunder.
CHRIS Grade_cplus_medium
He hit his 3-pointer, but his defense left much to be desired in this series as a whole. He’s a guy that’s been called upon in the past to shut down Tony Parker, and maybe his familiarity with that matchup will wake up the defensive beast that lies inside of Thabo. He’ll need to make more an impact on that end in the next series than he did in this one.

Ibaka_medium

SERGE IBAKA GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
26 6 2 0 1 0 1 -3
JUAN Grade_cplus_medium
I didn't think Serge Ibaka was playing good in his time on the floor, but that all went out the window once he went down with the calf injury. I feared that a game 7 would have had the Thunder playing with a banged up Ibaka, but now we just have to wait and see how severe the injury is. Remember: Sefolosha missed a month with a calf injury. We really hope it isn't that serious.
CHRIS Grade_b_medium
PLEASE BE OK, SERGE’S CALF. Seriously a huge injury depending on the severity, though initial reports seem to be indicating he’ll be good to for San Antonio. His interior D against the Spurs has the potential to shape the entire series, and having a bad wheel could seriously threaten that.
Perk_medium

KENDRICK PERKINS GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
8 0 2 1 0 0 2 -9
JUAN Grade_c_medium
The game started off the most Kendrick Perkins way, ever. Perkins set an illegal screen and got into it with Matt Barnes. That's about the only "highlight" Perk had all night.
CHRIS Grade_c_medium
The weird part of doing grades for a series-clinching game is that I feel like I want to grade them for the series. For the night, Perkins only logged 8 minutes, and really didn’t contribute much at all. I’m of the belief that as long as you aren’t talking about him, he’s done his job. Plus his defense for stretches on Jordan and Griffin was fantastic, and his toughness definitely gives the entire team a certain edge they need on defense.

Jackson_medium

REGGIE JACKSON GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
31 14 2 3 0 1 2 +7
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium
Is anybody happier to play the Spurs in the conference finals than Reggie Jackson? He has torched the Spurs this season and we would love to see more of that for two weeks. As far as last night goes, I thought Jackson hit the dagger when he put the Thunder up 10 with about 5:50 left to go in the fourth quarter and his thunderous dunk really seemed to pump up the team and you could just feel like the Clipper crowd started thinking, "uh-oh."
CHRIS Grade_b_medium
It sounds nuts, but we're at a point where the Reggie Jackson/Patty Mills showdown is going to be sneaky-huge. Jackson has owned the Spurs in the past, but he'll need to shore up his defense as he once again struggled at times keeping his man in front of him. The point production is right where you'd like it to be, and while the assists could be higher, he showed the ability to take control for short stretches. He continues to be an X-factor.

Adams_medium

STEVEN ADAMS GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
40 10 11 0 1 1 0 +17
JUAN Grade_aplus_medium
When Serge Ibaka went down with the injury, Steven Adams immediately became the most important big on the team, and he was amazing. He stayed out of foul trouble for the most part and I don't know how someone could play so hard for 40 minutes. New Zealand wasn't able to eliminate Mexico from the World Cup Qualifiers, but they are responsible for Steven Adams, so we can be cool again, New Zealand.
CHRIS Grade_aplus_medium
I sort of just want to let our host of entertaining Kiwi commenters take this one, but just real quick: Steven Adams is a 20-year old rookie that just logged 40 minutes in a series-clinching game against a championship-quality opponent... and he recorded a double-double! OK, do your thing New Zealand.
Collison_medium

NICK COLLISON GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
17 4 2 2 1 1 0 +16
JUAN Grade_aplus_medium
Professional is the word to describe Nick Collison. He was pretty much out of the rotation and he came in and played so well in the second half when his team needed him the most. I am usually really against Collison taking a three, but yesterday I found myself screaming "SHOOT IT" when he took, and made, that three-pointer. He and Adams need to get more minutes together, right?
CHRIS Grade_aplus_medium Shout out to Breen and Van Gundy for pointing it out in the broadcast, but it bears repeating: After not playing in the first half, and after largely being phased out of the rotation, Nick Collison logged 17 minutes in the second half of a series-clinching game and was a +16 in those 17 minutes, including a gigantic 3-pointer to tie it heading into the fourth, and a beautiful assist to help the Thunder pull away in the fourth. Can't say enough about how much he means to this team in situations like this.

Butler_medium

CARON BUTLER GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
7 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2
JUAN Grade_d_medium
If you read all the grades posts from us (hopefully), you'll know that I've been calling for Caron Butler to get no minutes in this series because he had been a liability all series, especially when Jamal Crawford is out on the floor. Last night, Scott Brooks read all our grades posts and finally sat down Butler. He still played 7 minutes, but that's significantly less than the 20-26 minutes he was previously getting. Could he end up back in the rotation against the Spurs? Yes. But it was great seeing Scott Brooks adjust last night and take him out.
CHRIS Grade_d_medium
He only got 7 minutes, maybe because Brooks finally realized he couldn't guard anyone he matched up with? Either way, he recorded zero stats. Unlikely he'll see that low of a minute total, but I like that Brooks wasn't afraid to change it up in a crucial game. That's called adjusting, and Butler just happened to be a casualty this time around.

Fisher_medium

DEREK FISHER GRADE MIN PTS REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Game Stats)
16 7 3 2 0 0 0 -5
JUAN Grade_cplus_medium
Derek Fisher made his first two shots and then air-balled his next two. So in other words, he had a very Derek Fisher-like game.
CHRIS Grade_c_medium The most exciting thing about Derek Fisher right now is that he's a front-runner for the Knicks job now. I'm all for him helping out Scotty down the stretch here, hopefully he won't miss as many coaching decisions as he does 3-pointers.

Brooks_medium

SCOTT BROOKS Coaching Grade
JUAN Grade_a_medium
I had been calling for Scott Brooks to make more adjustments in this series and he did just that when it mattered most. You can make an argument that Brooks out-coached Doc Rivers last night and that's saying a lot. Brooks finally made the decision to cut down on Caron Butler's minutes and played Steven Adams more minutes. Now, I won't really give him much credit for playing Nick Collison, because he was pretty much forced in there due to the injury to Ibaka, but it was still a good substitution and understanding of what the team needed at that moment. Scott Brooks now beat Doc Rivers and his reward is...dealing with Gregg Popovich for seven games.
CHRIS Grade_a_medium
Scott Brooks is basically just the Russell Westbrook of coaches right? We hate him because he messes up, and we love him because he seems to put it together when we need it most. Then he messes it up again, and the cycle repeats itself. The offensive system - or lack thereof - will always be maddening, but you can't look at this series as a whole and not see the adjustments he made, which is what coaches do. Also, that Game 4 collapse could have seriously damaged the team's morale going forward, but they recovered and won the next two. That's great leadership, and whether he's getting help from Coach Fisher and/or Durant and Westbrook, he's still the leader, and he deserves credit for righting the ship. Held off Butler tonight, used Adams in place on the injured Ibaka, saw Collison's impact and let him play it out, just a good feel of the roster. And don't forget - no matter how impossible it may seem now - he outcoached Pop in the 2012 Western Conference Finals.

Thunder_medium

TEAM GRADE GRADE FG% 3P% AST REB BL ST TO
(Game stats)
45.8 36.0 25 43 5 5 15
JUAN Grade_aplus_medium
When the game started the first thing I thought of was "dammit, I can't handle a game seven." Then when Serge Ibaka went down with an injury, I said a lot of things I probably shouldn't write here, but then, the Thunder played like the Thunder. Kevin Durant established himself as the best player on the court at all times and guys like Steven Adams and Nick Collison teamed up to crush the Clippers and their fans. Reggie Jackson had a mo
CHRIS Grade_aplus_medium
This team, you guys. They looked like utter crap in Game 1, they choked so hard in Game 4, and they still came out of that series looking like a serious threat to match up with the dreaded Spurs. Composure is one of those vague things coaches talk about from time to time, but I think you saw what having a polished group of veterans who have been down this road before does for a team. The Thunder received the benefit of a friendly whistle, but not all calls went in their favor. But when you're a veteran team, you just get past it and focus on what you can do next. The Clippers melted down on more than one occasion, starting with Griffin and Paul, and when your two leaders can't keep it together - see Griffin cursing at the ref on his sixth foul last night, even though the game was far from over - the rest of your team tends to follow suit. The Thunder never waivered, starting with Durant and Westbrook, but all the way down to Adams. They hung together and just played basketball, and in the end, that's why they're back in the conference finals.

*All player images via US Presswire

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