Durant, Westbrook help Thunder top 76ers 109-103By JEFF LATZKE, AP Sports Writer Wednesday, Nov 10, 2010
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)—Kevin Durant(notes) and Russell Westbrook(notes) each scored 31 points and came up with the key baskets down the stretch to help the Oklahoma City Thunder hold off a late charge from the Philadelphia 76ers for a 109-103 victory on Wednesday night.
Westbrook skied for a key layup off an inbound pass with just over 2 1/2 minutes left to keep Philadelphia from having a shot at the tie, and Durant helped put it away with a three-point play with 44 seconds remaining to extend the lead to 104-97.
Rookie Jodie Meeks(notes) scored 13 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter to lead the 76ers’ bid to erase an 11-point deficit. Jrue Holiday(notes) and Elton Brand(notes) also scored 17 points apiece as the Sixers eclipsed 100 points in a fifth straight game for the first time since December 2005.
Philadelphia stayed within striking distance throughout and cut the Thunder’s lead to 97-94 when Holiday stole the ball from Westbrook and found Meeks open for a 3-pointer on the fast break.
Brand answered Westbrook’s 19-footer with a jumper of his own from the foul line to keep the Sixers within three, but Philadelphia couldn’t defend a sideline inbound pass with 1 second left on the shot clock to gain an opportunity to go for the tie.
After three empty possessions for Oklahoma City, Durant ducked past No. 2 draft pick Evan Turner(notes) for a layup and got fouled in the process—even though it was Turner who ended up with a bloody lip. Durant hit the ensuing free throw to make it 104-97, and the Thunder were able to close it out from the free throw line from there.
Oklahoma City played without starting power forward Jeff Green(notes) for the second straight game with a sprained left ankle, and his backup, Nick Collison(notes), missed a seventh straight game with a stress reaction in his left leg.
Philadelphia was without guard Andre Iguodala(notes) for a second straight game with Achilles’ tendinitis in his right foot and forward Jason Kapono(notes) due to personal reasons. Sixth man Lou Williams didn’t return after sustaining a left shoulder contusion with about 3 minutes left in the third quarter.
Without their top two power forwards, the Thunder played extended stretches with a four-guard lineup and also briefly tried teaming centers Nenad Krstic(notes) and Cole Aldrich(notes). None of the combinations were able to extend the lead for long.
Durant and Westbrook converted three-point plays on consecutive possessions during an 8-0 burst midway through the third quarter that pushed Oklahoma City’s lead to 79-66. Durant’s driving layup made it a 14-point cushion before Philadelphia started its comeback.
Meeks hit a 3-pointer to close the third quarter and Philadelphia scored the first three baskets of the final period to get within 85-80 on Holiday’s driving layup. Holiday soon picked up his fifth foul and headed to the bench, only to return in time to lead another push.
He had 11 assists and six turnovers before fouling out with 29.9 seconds left. Turner added 15 points in his second career start, both in place of Iguodala.
Westbrook, Holiday’s predecessor at UCLA, had 12 assists and seven turnovers and Sefolosha had a season-high 10 points for the Thunder.
Oklahoma City took the lead for good by scoring the final seven points of the first quarter, then finished the first half by scoring six points in a row to push the lead back to 59-51 after Philadelphia had closed in.
Notes: A technical foul assessed against Durant in the Thunder’s previous game against Boston was rescinded by the NBA. Replays showed that Paul Pierce(notes) was holding onto Durant’s arm when the foul was called. … Durant is one of the nominees for Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. … Thunder coach Scott Brooks grew up as a Sixers fan and fondly remembers his first time playing inside The Spectrum, which will be demolished on Nov. 23. “To see the Spectrum for the first time, it was probably one of the best basketball feelings I’ve had walking on that court and just thinking about all of the childhood memories I had watching that team.”