Thunder win third in a row against Spurs

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SAN ANTONIO — Kevin Durant scored 27 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder are on the brink of the NBA Finals, beating the San Antonio Spurs 108-103 in Game 5 on Monday night and moving within a victory of a series knockout.

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Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) shoots against San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21) during the first half of Game 5 in the NBA basketball Western Conference finals, Monday, June 4, 2012, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)  ERIC GAY/ASSOCIATED PRESS
ERIC GAY/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) shoots against San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21) during the first half of Game 5 in the NBA basketball Western Conference finals, Monday, June 4, 2012, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Russell Westbrook added 23 and the Thunder took a 3-2 lead in a wildly entertaining Western Conference Finals. Looking invincible while carrying a 20-win streak a week ago, the Spurs have lost three in a row and are on the verge of a stunning collapse.

Manu Ginobili scored 34 in a smashing return to the starting lineup, but missed the potential game-tying shot in the final seconds.

Ginobili replaced Danny Green, who was shooting only 8 of 28 through the first four games of the series. It was the first start for Ginobili since March 23 and just his eighth all season.

Game 6 is Wednesday night in Oklahoma City, where the Thunder can punch their ticket to the NBA Finals in the place they haven’t lost all postseason.

HEAT: Miami is now listing forward-center Chris Bosh as “day-to-day,” and are not ruling out the possibility that he may play in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night. The series is tied at two games apiece.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra says he plans to continue evaluating the former Georgia Tech star. Spoelstra says “it’s premature to say he’ll definitely play.”

RATINGS: The Boston Celtics’ overtime win over the Miami Heat has drawn the highest preliminary television rating for an NBA playoff game on cable since records started being kept in 2003.

Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday night on ESPN produced a 7.9 overnight rating. The network said Monday that was up 39 percent from Game 4 of the 2011 Western Conference Finals on ESPN between the Mavericks and Thunder.

LAKERS: Exercised their $16.1 million contract option for next season on All-Star center Andrew Bynum.

Bynum is coming off his best NBA season after averaging career highs with 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds while making his first All-Star team, starting for the West.

TRAIL BLAZERS: Hired former Los Angeles Clippers GM Neil Olshey as the team’s new general manager.

The announcement by the Blazers on Monday came less than an hour after the Clippers announced that they had decided to part ways with Olshey.

Last season, Olshey oversaw a major retooling of the Clippers’ roster that included signing All-Star Chris Paul in December in the biggest trade in franchise history.

OBITUARY: Jim Fitzgerald, who owned the Milwaukee Bucks during a successful era in the early 1980s and went on to own the Golden State Warriors, died Monday.

“Jim Fitzgerald was the right man at the right time for the Bucks franchise,” said team vice president of business operations John Steinmiller.

Fitzgerald joined the Bucks’ board of directors in 1973, then became president and chairman of the board in 1976. He was owner during a successful era that included the hiring of Hall of Fame coach Don Nelson and a string of consecutive division titles from 1979-1980 to 1985-1986.


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