WASHINGTON — David West scored 29 points, and the Indiana Pacers beat the Washington Wizards 93-80 Thursday night to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight year.
Lance Stephenson added 17 points and eight assists for the Pacers, who won the series 4-2 over the Wizards. They will host Game 1 against the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat on Sunday. Indiana took the Heat to seven games in the conference finals a year ago.
The Wizards took a one-point lead with 8½ minutes to play, but they scored only two field goals the rest of the way as the Pacers closed with a 20-6 run.
Marcin Gortat scored 19 points for the Wizards, who ended their best playoff run in decades.
THUNDER 104, CLIPPERS 98: In Los Angeles, Kevin Durant had 39 points and 16 rebounds, and the Thunder advanced to the Western Conference finals.
Russell Westbrook overcame a slow start to finish with 19 points and 12 assists as the Thunder reached the conference finals for the third time in four years, closing out Los Angeles with two straight wins.
Two days after the Thunder erased a late 13-point deficit to win Game 5, the Thunder rallied from an early 16-point deficit and maintained their lead throughout the fourth quarter, shaking off any memories of their Game 4 collapse.
Chris Paul had 25 points and 11 assists, and Blake Griffin scored 22 points as the Clippers’ exhausting postseason ended in disappointment.
Rivers welcomes $25,000 fine for ripping refs: In Los Angeles, Clippers coach Doc Rivers believes his $25,000 fine for criticizing officials is money well spent.
In fact, two people on the Clippers’ front-office staff volunteered to help Rivers pay the bill after he ripped a key call in Los Angeles’ 105-104 loss in Oklahoma City on Tuesday in Game 5 of their second-round playoff series.
“My assistant, Ann Marie, got two calls from employees downtown that wanted to do a payroll deduct of $100 each to help me pay for the fine, which we obviously denied,” Rivers said with a grin.
The NBA levied the fine several hours before the Clippers faced playoff elimination in Game 6 against Oklahoma City at Staples Center on Thursday.
“I thought it was deserved,” Rivers said. “It’s one of the rare times you actually earned one. I don’t mind that.”
Rivers still hasn’t changed his opinion of a last-minute call that abetted the Thunder’s comeback from a 13-point deficit in the final 3:53 of Game 5. The veteran coach criticized the officials’ reasoning while claiming the Clippers “were robbed” — and he hasn’t backed down from that assessment.
The Clippers had a two-point lead with 14 seconds left when Chris Paul made a turnover while attempting to draw a shooting foul. Oklahoma City’s Reggie Jackson then drove the lane and went up for a shot while defended by Matt Barnes, who appeared to hit Jackson’s hand.
No foul was called as the ball flew away from Jackson and out of bounds with 11.3 seconds left.
But officials awarded the ball to the Thunder and upheld their call on video replay.
NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn issued a statement Wednesday affirming the officials’ call.
“In order to reverse the call made on the court, there has to be ‘clear and conclusive’ evidence,” Thorn’s statement said. “Since no replay provided such evidence, the play correctly stood as called with the Thunder retaining possession.”
Rivers was irate on the sideline, repeatedly screaming “That’s our ball!” at the officials. Oklahoma City rallied to win on three free throws by Russell Westbrook and another turnover by Paul in the final seconds.
Paul was downcast and discouraged when the Clippers returned to Los Angeles, but the All-Star point guard perked up in the hours before Game 6, Rivers said.
“The guys who know him here, you know he’s very intense, very aware,” Rivers said of Paul. “Sometimes you wish he wasn’t. ... I thought today he was so much better. He’s a gamer. He’ll be ready.”