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The Journal Gazette

Friday, February 08, 2013 10:28 pm

Thunder romp to 3rd straight blowout, 127-96

By JEFF LATZKEAP Sports Writer

Kevin Durant scored 21 points, Thabo Sefolosha had a season-high 18 and the Oklahoma City Thunder rode a gigantic third-quarter run to a 127-96 victory Friday night over the Phoenix Suns.

All five Thunder starters had at least one basket during a 21-0 run that put Oklahoma City in position to complete a perfect homestand with a third straight blowout. Russell Westbrook had a right-handed slam during the run before finishing it off with a banked-in runner to stretch the lead to 81-55 with 3:25 to go in the third quarter.

Phoenix even came out of a timeout with six players on the floor at one point during the stretch, but all that did was result in another point after Durant made the resulting technical foul.

Michael Beasley led the Suns with 25 points and Goran Dragic had 16 of his 19 points in the first quarter.

The game had a completely different feel from the last meeting in Phoenix last month, when Durant and Westbrook combined for 47 of Oklahoma City's 51 points in the second half. This time, everyone chipped in for a dominant second-half performance.

Kendrick Perkins also had a season best with 17 points and nine rebounds, Westbrook scored 17 and Kevin Martin chipped in 16 points. In all three games of the Thunder's homestand, three starters - Durant, Westbrook and Perkins - didn't play a single minute in the fourth quarter as the Northwest Division leaders got back on track after a 4-4 stretch.

Perkins made eight of his nine shots and ended up with his highest-scoring total since he was traded to the Thunder by the Boston Celtics in February 2011. He hadn't scored more since collecting 20 points against Miami on Jan. 6, 2010.

Oklahoma City has won nine straight games in the series and can complete a four-game season sweep Sunday night when the Suns get a rematch on their home court.

The Thunder connected on their first six shots and withstood the loss of both starting guards, Westbrook and Sefolosha, to two fouls within the first 6 minutes as Durant hit all four of his 3-point attempts in the first quarter. Two of them came during an 8-0 burst soon after Westbrook and Sefolosha came out, stretching Oklahoma City's lead to 25-15.

Phoenix rallied with a string of eight straight points early in the second quarter, tying it at 35 when Kendall Marshall banked in a runner. The Suns led only twice, both times after baskets by Beasley in the final 3 minutes of the first half.

Notes: Martin, the NBA's top foul shooter at 90.5 percent, made three of his four free throws. He hasn't missed two in a game all season. ... Durant had steals on the Suns' first two possessions, causing coach Lindsey Hunter to call a timeout just 67 seconds into the game. ... Phoenix was Oklahoma City's opponent in its annual New Year's Eve home game and will host the Thunder Sunday night on Chinese New Year, which the NBA is recognizing with special T-shirts for players to wear during pregame warmups.