OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)—The Thunder haven’t looked this good since moving to town last year. The Pistons haven’t looked this bad since long before that.
Kevin Durant scored 32 points as Oklahoma City recorded the first consecutive wins in its brief history, delivering a knockout punch with a 13-point run to start the fourth quarter in an 89-79 win over Detroit on Friday night.
“We’re excited about this nice little run that we’re playing. We’re playing good basketball,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks, whose team hadn’t beaten an opponent with a winning record until Wednesday night’s defeat of Utah.
“It feels good to win. The key is whether we win or we lose, the next day we still come back and work and try to get better.”
Neither team had led by more than six points when the Thunder took advantage of a brief absence by Tayshaun Prince to widen their lead. They didn’t let up until they were ahead by 17 following a 6-minute scoreless stretch by Detroit that left Allen Iverson looking for answers.
“You look at our roster and the only thing you can attribute it to is chemistry. The chemistry is not there,” said Iverson, who was shut out after scoring 14 points in the first half. “There’s no excuse for it. I don’t see how you can have this many great scorers and be at the bottom of the scoring in the league.
“And tonight, we just got outrebounded so bad.”
The Pistons have lost four in a row for the first time since January 2005, and scored 82 or less in the three games that ended in regulation. Only three teams had lower scoring averages than the Detroit’s 94 points per game at the start of the day Wednesday.
What’s even more strange is that the Pistons’ funk has come right on the heels of a seven-game winning streak that ended Jan. 7 at Portland. That started a stretch of five losses in six games.
Iverson said it’s up to first-year coach Michael Curry to fix the chemistry issue.
“That’s not something that I can change or put a finger on. That’s something for the coach to figure out,” Iverson said. “That’s why he’s the coach—to figure out what we have to do to get a lot better on the offensive end. I think it will happen.
“Obviously if we won seven games in a row, it can work. We’re just struggling right now.”
The Thunder are headed in the opposite direction. After a 3-29 start to the season, Oklahoma City hit the midway point of the season by going 5-4 in its last nine games, punctuated by its two best wins.
“We can’t be satisfied with these two wins that we just got. Yes, they were against good teams, but we can’t be satisfied,” said Jeff Green, who had nine points and 14 rebounds. “We’ve got to keep moving forward.”
Prince and Richard Hamilton scored 18 each to lead Detroit, but Prince was injured and on the bench when Oklahoma City pulled away.
Prince’s left-handed dunk in transition cut Detroit’s deficit to 62-60, but he landed funny and came out of the game moments later with 2:33 left in the third quarter. He was icing his right thigh on the bench when Wilcox hit a jumper from the left side 47 seconds later to give Oklahoma City its largest lead to that point at 67-61.
He’d add another jumper and a layup in Oklahoma City’s big run, which rookie Kyle Weaver capped with a right-handed dunk after he beat Iverson on a baseline cut to make it 84-67.
“They jumped right on us offensively. We couldn’t turn their water off,” Iverson said. “They got hot and they got into an offensive rhythm. We couldn’t stop it and we (weren’t) capitalizing on the other end. We didn’t do anything on the other end.”
Prince returned within the first 2 minutes of the fourth quarter, but the Thunder were up nine and on the way to their first winning streak by then.
“It’s the first time this year we did that,” Durant said. “It felt good to beat two quality teams. A team like Detroit can only make us better because they’re one of the premier teams in the league.”
With Nick Collison ill and Joe Smith out for a third straight game with a sore left knee, Wilcox got back into the rotation and had his biggest game since scoring 23 on New Year’s Eve against Golden State. … Former WBA lightweight champion Sean O’Grady waved a state flag during a pregame playing of the state song, “Oklahoma!” … Detroit didn’t get an offensive rebound until Hamilton tracked down his own miss with 4:33 left in the third quarter. … Assistants had to open a sealed water chamber to rescue magician Kristen Johnson as she performed an escape act at midcourt during halftime. She waved to the crowd during the third-quarter break to show she was OK. … Prince’s streak of 450 straight games played is the second longest in the NBA, behind Philadelphia’s Andre Miller (486).