Durant hurt as Thunder beat Pacers 113-89By JEFF LATZKE, AP Sports Writer Thursday, Mar 3, 2011
He limped out to his locker with a walking boot strapped onto his left foot and a stubborn zipper on his coat just didn’t want to cooperate. He was still in a playful mood.
“I’m out for the year. No, just playing,” Durant said when asked about the ankle he sprained in the Thunder’s 113-89 win against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
“It’s just a little tweak. I did it before. I’ve just got to see how it feels in the morning and hopefully I’m ready to go. I’m glad we got the win.”
Durant scored 21 points before leaving in the third quarter, but by then his Thunder were well on their way to snapping their first three-game losing streak of the season.
Russell Westbrook(notes) added 21 points and nine assists and James Harden(notes) scored 17 of his 20 points during the first half, when Oklahoma City built a 22-point lead. The Thunder, still at least a week away from the debut of newly acquired center Kendrick Perkins(notes) (knee), led by as many as 35 in the fourth quarter before emptying their bench.
“We definitely didn’t want to lose four in a row. I’ve been through that many times before,” said Durant, who endured Oklahoma City’s 3-29 start just two seasons ago. “Especially playing at home, we didn’t want to lose.
“Perk told us before the game we’ve always got to protect our house. Something as simple as that kind of stuck in our heads.”
Tyler Hansbrough(notes) led Indiana with 13 points and Dahntay Jones(notes) scored 12. The Pacers suffered their second-biggest loss of the season and were just starting a stretch with six of their next seven games on the road. They’ve lost five of eight after starting out 7-1 under interim coach Frank Vogel.
“We just have to understand that we’re a better basketball team that we showed tonight and get ready for Dallas (on Friday night),” Vogel said.
Durant, the NBA’s scoring leader with a 28.5-point average, was helped to the locker room by two trainers after he stepped on Hansbrough’s foot and got fouled on a drive to the basket with 2:44 left in the third quarter. He did not return.
Durant, who missed two games in November after spraining the same ankle, stayed in the game to hit his two free throws before coming out. He committed a foul immediately after hitting his second foul shot and headed toward the tunnel.
He didn’t wear the protective boot the last time he sprained his ankle, but it was considered a precaution. The Thunder play next at Atlanta on Friday night.
“We’ll see tomorrow. I really can’t tell,” Durant said when asked how this injury compared to the last one. “It’s gotten better since I got off the floor, so hopefully that’s a good sign.”
Oklahoma City already led by 23 when Durant came out, and Daequan Cook(notes) and Eric Maynor(notes) hit 3-pointers during an 11-0 run that pushed the advantage to 97-62 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
Indiana made a 10-0 response before another 3 by Cook, and Thunder coach Scott Brooks then made a wholesale lineup change with just over 6 minutes to play.
“We’ve been just getting after it, getting back to our roots of how we win games,” said Cook, who went 4-for-7 from 3-point range and scored 12 points. “That’s where it starts, in practice, and we brought the intensity of practice and carried it over to the game.”
Nazr Mohammed(notes) had eight points and seven rebounds in his first start with the Thunder after coming over in a trade with Charlotte at the trade deadline last week. Nate Robinson(notes) scored six points in his Thunder debut. He was included in the trade with Boston that brought Perkins to the Thunder.
“It’s going to take some time for us to really get everything where we want it to be, but I think we’re in the right direction,” Durant said.
Oklahoma City scored the first 10 points of the game and never trailed.
The Pacers missed their first seven shots, committed four quick turnovers to fuel Oklahoma City’s fast-break offense and lost Granger to two fouls within the first 4 minutes. The Thunder had eight fast-break points during their 16-2 opening run and also got Mohammed’s first points with the team on a pair of free throws and first basket on a layup underneath off a feed from Durant.
Granger returned from the bench to help Indiana get within seven, only for Harden to score seven points during Oklahoma City’s 10-0 burst that made it 40-23 with 8:43 left before halftime. Harden finished it off with a two-handed dunk that also drew Granger’s third foul and sent him back to the sideline.
The foul trouble limited Granger to just 6 minutes before halftime, when the Pacers trailed 63-42. They never got closer than 16 in the second half.
Granger finished with nine points in 18 minutes, and he didn’t play in the fourth quarter.
“They were a good team. We played like a really tired team,” Granger said. “Tonight, it really wasn’t much of a game.”
NOTES: Robinson got a loud ovation after entering the game with 1:47 left before halftime, then airballed his first shot on a 3-pointer that sailed well long two possessions later. He had a reverse layup to finish the first half. … Brooks said one reason he started Mohammed was to keep Nick Collison(notes) with his reserves he’s played with all season. “I kind of wanted just to keep that unit in tact as much as possible because it’s been a good unit for us,” Brooks said. “Nick is kind of like a glue guy in that unit.” … Cook is 19 for 37 from 3-point range in his past six games. “Just a lot of preparation and going in with a lot of confidence,” he said.