Durant leads Thunder past Rockets
Oklahoma City, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - Kevin Durant registered his 11th 40- point game of the season and Serge Ibaka grabbed 16 rebounds to help the Oklahoma City Thunder snap a two-game slide with a 106-98 triumph over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday from Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Durant shot 12-of-22 for 42 points, while Ibaka scored 12 points with four blocked shots for OKC. Russell Westbrook stuffed the stat sheet with 24 points, seven assists and four steals while Caron Butler added 11 points off the bench.
"Defensively I thought we did a great job of locking in for four quarters," said Westbrook.
Durant and Westbrook combined to shoot 24-of-30 from the free throw line, outscoring the Rockets (23-of-34) at the stripe by themselves.
James Harden flirted with a triple-double in the setback, putting in 28 points with nine assists and eight rebounds as Houston's five-game winning streak came to an end. Chandler Parsons donated 19 points.
"We missed 15 layups out there," said Houston head coach Kevin McHale. "We went in there soft tonight. We didn't attack the rim."
After a back-and-forth opening frame, OKC clamped down defensively in the second quarter, holding Houston to just 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting. The Rockets went without a second chance period in the frame and scored just one bucket in transition.
Houston forward Jordan Hamilton scored the first three points of the second on 3-of-4 from the charity stripe, but Ibaka hit a jumper to put OKC in front 28-27. Butler's triple at 7:17 capped an 11-1 Thunder run.
Westbrook then took over, finding a wide open Reggie Jackson near the top of the key for a 3-pointer at 5:11. After Howard missed two free throws, Westbrook split a pair at the line, swooped in for a layup and hit a pull-up trey for a 49-32 OKC advantage.
The Thunder led 56-41 at halftime.
Houston trimmed the deficit to just 10 points after the third and five points on Omer Asik's two-handed jam 2:33 into the fourth. Durant, who had been on the bench since late in the third, checked back in at the ensuing timeout and scored five straight to restore a double-digit advantage.
Harden hit a pair of pull-up triples 2:16 apart from one another late in the fourth to draw the Rockets back within five points, but Westbrook drew a foul on Patrick Beverley and earned three free throws. He drained all of them, and Durant hit a difficult mid-range jumper with 1:10 for the dagger.
The Thunder improved to 3-0 against Houston this season and have taken five of the last six regular season matchups ... OKC improved to 4-5 since Westbrook returned to the lineup after missing 27 games following knee surgery ... Dwight Howard, who had nine points and 10 boards, has scored less than 10 points in a game in which he's played at least 25 minutes three times this season. Two have come against the Thunder.
03/12 01:42:24 ET