Thunder finish strong to down Suns
Oklahoma City, OK (My Sportsbook) - Kevin Durant scored a game-high 30 points on 11-of-24 from the field and the Oklahoma City Thunder pulled away from the Phoenix Suns in the fourth quarter to secure a 114-96 victory Monday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Russell Westbrook netted 24 points to go with nine assists and seven rebounds, Serge Ibaka put in 16 points and grabbed seven boards and Thabo Sefolosha added a season-high 14 points for the Thunder, who have won three straight since a two-game slide. Nick Collison donated 10 points and nine rebounds in the win.
Luis Scola scored a team-high 24 points and pulled down six rebounds, while Goran Dragic contributed 16 points and eight assists for the Suns, who have lost six straight. Jermaine O'Neal and Marcin Gortat added 12 points apiece in a losing cause.
"I thought we played hard and competed like crazy out there," said Phoenix head coach Alvin Gentry. "When we came out in the second half a little bit flat, we still were able to get back into the game, but just didn't have enough gas to finish it off."
Oklahoma City entered the fourth quarter with an 84-78 lead, but a layup by O'Neal a few minutes afterward cut the deficit to 87-85 with 9:04 to play.
Collison then answered at the other end with a layup to ignite the Thunder on a 17-4 outburst, extending the Thunder's lead to 104-89 with 3:08 to play.
Oklahoma City was on cruise control the rest of the way.
"I thought that was a good team win," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "A lot of guys did a lot of good things offensively. We did a good job taking care of the ball as well."
It was a back-and-forth affair for most of the opening quarter, which featured four ties and four lead changes, but the Thunder created some separation during the latter stages of the period.
With the Thunder trailing 22-21 with 2:51 on the clock, Ibaka drained a corner trey to give the hosts a two-point edge. Oklahoma City then ripped off a quick 6-1 spurt later on and held a 32-26 advantage heading into the second session.
The second quarter was just as close as the first, featuring four ties and a pair of lead changes. Durant dropped in a layup with 27.4 left before halftime to give the Thunder a 52-50 lead, but Phoenix's Sebastian Telfair answered with a 3-ball at the other end.
However, Durant sank a pair from the free throw line to give the Thunder a one-point margin at the break.
Oklahoma City opened the third quarter with a 12-0 surge to take a 66-53 lead, but a pair of Gortat free throws with 6:24 left in the period cut the deficit to nine.
A corner trey by Westbrook with 2:53 left in the stanza gave the Thunder an 82-68 advantage, but the Suns battled back with nine straight points to trim the deficit to five, and went into the fourth quarter trailing 84-78.
The Thunder improved to 16-2 at home this season and have won 12 straight as the host ... The Suns have lost four straight in Oklahoma City ... The Thunder improved to 5-0 on New Year's Eve since moving to Oklahoma City and turned the ball over a season-low five times ... The Thunder shot 50.6 percent from the floor and 21-of-24 from the free throw line.
January 1, 2013, at 01:22 AM ET
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