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Oklahoma City bounces back with easy win

The SportsXchange

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma City Thunder has not lost consecutive home games in more than three years, and Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant made sure it didn't happen on Friday, as the Thunder beat the Philadelphia 76ers 109-85 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The Thunder, which had lost to Brooklyn at home on Wednesday, improved to 25-7 this season, while the Sixers dropped to 15-19.

For Philadelphia, it was the seventh game of an eight-game road trip that began in Brooklyn against the Nets on Dec. 23. The Sixers have gone 3-4 so far on the trip.

Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant led the way offensively for the Thunder. Westbrook was the game's leading scorer with 27 points, and Durant added 26.

Westbrook played an efficient game, shooting 58 percent from the field and 4-for-4 from the 3-point line. He also had five assists, although he did have six turnovers.

"I was being patient," Westbrook said. "The lane opened up for me, so I was concentrating on finishing. I'm just trying to take my time [shooting the ball]."

Nick Young had 21 points to lead the Sixers, hitting 5-of-7 from 3-point range. Jrue Holiday had 15 points and nine assists.

Young was also the only Sixers player to shoot free throws in the game, going 6-for-8. Philadelphia head coach Doug Collins didn't want to get in trouble with the league for criticizing the referees, but wasn't happy with that outcome.

"We've got to be stronger, take that ball to the basket, and make them foul us," Collins said. "For one guy to shoot a free throw tonight ... I'm not saying that has anything to do with the whistle. I don't want that to be miscalculated at all."

Collins said before the game his team needed to limit the Thunder's free throw attempts, but his team was unsuccessful in doing so. Oklahoma City made 21 out of 27 free throws

The Thunder led by one point after the first quarter, 22-21. Westbrook scored 10 points in the quarter.

For Philadelphia, Spencer Hawes, Holiday, Lavoy Allen and Thaddeus Young each had four points in the first quarter. The Sixers were only 1-for-7 from 3-point range, and Oklahoma City was 2-for-3 in the opening period.

The Sixers led for a few short moments in the second quarter, boosted by three 3-pointers by Nick Young, who scored 11 points in the second quarter. However, Oklahoma City ended the half with a 46-42 lead.

Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said that Oklahoma City's mistakes kept Philadelphia in the game during the first half. Both Philadelphia and the Thunder had 10 first-half turnovers.

"Offensively, we were turning the ball over in the first half too many times, stepping out of bounds, traveling, bad picks," Brooks said. "That added up to some bad offense in the first half. But, we turned it around in the second half."

Back-to-back 3-point shots by Thabo Sefolosha and Durant early in the third quarter extended the Thunder lead to 10 points with about 8 1/2 minutes left. Philadelphia got the deficit back down to three just a few minutes later, but the Thunder went up 69-57 with just under four minutes left in the third quarter.

Westbrook continued to lead the offense in the third quarter, scoring 12 points in the period as the Thunder took a 78-66 lead into the final quarter. Oklahoma City shot 4-for-4 from the 3-point line in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Oklahoma City led by as many as 27 points. Kevin Martin scored 11 of his 14 points in the final period, going 3-for-3 from the 3-point line in the fourth. Kevin Durant scored seven of his 26 in the fourth to close out the Sixers.

The Thunder travels to Toronto to face the Raptors at noon on Sunday. The 76ers finish their road trip at San Antonio at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

NOTES: The Thunder has not lost two straight home games since 2009, when the Thunder lost to the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 1 before losing an overtime game to the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 3. Oklahoma City was coming off a home loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. "We've always had that bounce-back toughness that it takes in this league," Brooks said. "We don't like to lose one game, let alone two in a row." Oklahoma City has lost two games in a row once this season, when it lost on the road to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 20 and on the road against the Miami Heat on Dec. 25. ... The last time the 76ers and Thunder played, Oklahoma City won a 116-109 overtime game in Philadelphia on Nov. 24. ... Collins said his team has to limit the free throw and fast break opportunities for the Thunder in order to have a chance. "The key thing is, can we keep them off the foul line?" Collins said. "Durant and Westbrook are, I think, three and four in fast break points in the league. So you can't give them those opportunities." In the Nov. 24 matchup, Oklahoma City shot 37 free throws, while Philadelphia only shot 17. The Thunder also led the 76ers in fast break points, 19-13.
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