OKLAHOMA CITY — It had been more than two weeks since Oklahoma City fans had gotten to see Kevin Durant perform live. In that time some may have forgotten just how special the forward can play in the clutch.
Durant gave them a taste of what they had been missing when he let loose for a 3-point barrage in the fourth quarter to lead the Thunder to an an 110-99 victory over the Brooklyn Nets Wednesday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Durant led all scorers with 30 as he shot 11 of 18 from the field to go along with five assists and six rebounds in his second game back from a left hamstring strain. Most of his damage occurred with Nets rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson guarding him and he took full advantage.
“I seen fresh meet and I was ready to eat,” Durant said. “And I was hungry. I really like him. Long athletic. But I seen something in his eyes I could exploit.”
In his two games back Durant has scored 57 points and missed a total of 10 shots.
Russell Westbrook added 27 points, 13 assists and six rebounds as the Thunder won their third straight game to improve to 10-6.
Brook Lopez paced the Nets with 26 points and eight rebounds. Thaddeus Young chipped in with 18 points on 9-of-15 shooting. The Nets dropped to 3-12.
“I think we did a good job of sticking together, sticking to the gameplay and playing physical throughout the whole game,” Westbrook said. “We had some ups and downs, but I thought for the most part we ddi a good job.”
Brooklyn tied the game at 85-85 midway through the fourth quarter on a Andrea Bargnani's layup. At the next dead ball, Durant and Westbrook reentered the game and that started a run for the home team.
It included 3-pointers by guard Dion Waiters and Durant, who pulled up from 35 feet with a defender in his face. Oklahoma City led 94-85 after a 9-0 run with 6:15 left in the game.
“We were just going crazy,” said Enes Kanter. “Everybody went up on the bench and was going crazy. The OKC fans were going crazy to. Moments like that are just the best.”
Even after a Brooklyn timeout, the Thunder continued to pour it on. Forward Serge Ibaka threw down a baseline dunk, Durant hit another step-back 3-pointer and Waiters buried a 3-pointer from the corner.
Lopez tried to slow the Thunder's momentum with a series of jumpers, and Young scored on a fast-break layup to get the Nets within 104-93.
“They just made big shots,” Young said. “They came down in transition and I think they hit a couple of three which was kind of the knock-out punch for us. We were already down a little bit, but those two or three threes that they hit in transition was huge for them because they could control the game and got into a momentum.”
Ibaka hit a pair of free throws and Westbrook picked up a steal and layup to push the advantage to 108-93. That was enough to hold the Nets off the rest of the way.
Brooklyn won the rebound battle 45-42. But the Thunder had seven blocked shots and 11 steals.
Durant was active from the start. That included a backward lay-in off an alley-oop pass from Westbrook and a two-handed dunk off a drive through the lane.
Nonetheless, Brooklyn held a first quarter lead behind Lopez. With center Steven Adams guarding him, Lopez stayed on the perimeter and knocked down midrange set shots.
Westbrook continued to show off the passing skills that has him second in the league in assists. Whether it was dropping off bounce passes to Adams for dunks or simple outlets to Durant for 3-pointers, he racked up the assists. By the end of the third quarter and Oklahoma City leading 83-76, he had already totaled eight assists and no other player for either team had more than four.
“We have Russ, who is always in attack mode,” Waiters said. “I think it was more of us just being aggressive and making the right play at the right time. Not settling for a lot of jump shots.”
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