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                   === 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.
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 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