Wednesday, February 27, 2013 11:55 pm
Durant gets triple-double in 119-74 Thunder rout
By JEFF LATZKEAP Sports Writer
Thabo Sefolosha dived on the floor to save a possession for the Oklahoma City Thunder and get Durant in position to make another play. In a matter of minutes, Durant went from being in the neighborhood of a triple-double to being right on the doorstep. He made sure to finish it off before another early exit in the Thunder's latest blowout.
Durant had 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists - the last five coming in a 4-minute flurry in the third quarter - and the Thunder finished a perfect three-game homestand by routing the short-handed New Orleans Hornets 119-74 on Wednesday night.
"When you get a triple-double, people think it's just about the guy that gets it," Durant said. "Your teammates make so many great plays to put you in position to do that. So, it's not just me. My teammates made me look good tonight."
With Oklahoma City already up by 23, Durant went into assist mode to get his second triple-double since the All-Star break.
He assisted on Westbrook's two-handed dunk and a jumper by Serge Ibaka, then threw an off-target alley-oop that Westbrook was able to lay in. He followed that with a pass to Ibaka for a layup, turning to his teammates on the bench with a big smile afterward. After a timeout, he knew he needed just one more assist and passed up a shot near the elbow to instead set up a 3-pointer by Westbrook from the left corner.
On the next possession, Durant made a 10-foot jumper to make it 87-52 and then came out with the rest of the starters with 4:01 left in the third quarter.
"My teammates just did a great job of making me look good and really giving me that triple-double. I wasn't trying to force it or anything like that," Durant said. "I was just playing the game and it happened to come."
Ryan Anderson started in place of injured No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis (shoulder) and led New Orleans with 14 points. The Hornets trailed by at least 29 in three of the four meetings with Oklahoma City this season, getting swept in the season series.
The margin of victory matched the largest of the season for Oklahoma City and was the biggest blowout the Hornets have suffered this season. It also marked the first back-to-back blowouts by at least 30 points by the Thunder franchise since 1994, when it was located in Seattle.
New Orleans was also without second-leading scorer Eric Gordon, who has been sitting out the second game of back-to-back sets this season while working his way back from a knee injury.
"That's part of the game. We don't make any excuses about not having guys," coach Monty Williams said. "If you get a chance to play in the NBA, you've got to cherish it. It's a blessing to play in the NBA. Not everybody looks at it that way.
"We don't have a number of our guys tonight. The guys who get a chance to play, they never know. This could be their last opportunity."
Westbrook scored 29 points, making all 12 of his free throws, and Ibaka finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
The huge lead gave coach Scott Brooks the whole fourth quarter to rest his starters and give playing time to new acquisitions Derek Fisher and Ronnie Brewer. Fisher, who signed as a free agent after Oklahoma City traded third-string point guard Eric Maynor last week, gained a spot in the rotation and missed a pair of 3-pointers in each half.
Brewer, acquired in a trade with New York last week, played the entire fourth quarter along with Fisher and had five points.
"They bring toughness. They bring experience. They just know how to play," Brooks said. "They know where to be, they know when to get out of the way and they know when to make plays."
The Thunder never trailed and pulled away after a cranking up their defense late in the first half. New Orleans started out 18 for 36 from the field and was within 48-43, then made just nine of 41 shots (22 percent) after that. Oklahoma City recorded five blocks in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the second half and never looked back.
"It wasn't just not making shots. We couldn't get a stop, either," Williams said.
Oklahoma City had allowed four straight opponents to shoot 46 percent or better before holding Chicago to an NBA season-low 29.1 percent in a 102-72 blowout Sunday night.
The Hornets rallied back from an early 14-point deficit with nine straight points to get within 45-41 on Al-Farouq Aminu's tip-in of a miss by Greivis Vasquez.
Durant responded with a 3-pointer on Oklahoma City's next possession, sparking a 17-4 flurry to finish the half by the Thunder and push the lead to 62-45.
Notes: Williams said the swelling in Davis' sprained left shoulder would be key in when he's able to return. New Orleans' next game is Friday night against Detroit. "Just talking to our trainers, optimistically he's probably day-to-day. We'll re-evaluate him when we get home tonight or tomorrow and see how he feels," Williams said. ... The 38-year-old Fisher signed with Oklahoma City for the final part of the season for a second straight year, and Brooks says it's not just about his locker room presence from winning five titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. "Derek gives us a great deal of experience and he's still a player. Trust me, we're not bringing him in here just to tell us good stories about Kobe and Shaq, how they won championship and he was the guy," Brooks said. "We're not going to eat S'mores together. He's going to play."