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Durant scores 42 as Thunder down Jazz
Salt Lake City, UT (SportsNetwork.com) - Kevin Durant made 22 free throws and scored 42 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder held on for a 101-98 win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night in the season-opener for both teams.
Utah's Gordon Hayward pulled up in front of Durant and missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Durant and the Thunder started the season without guard Russell Westbrook and got 14 points apiece from guards Thabo Sefolosha and Reggie Jackson.
Westbrook probably won't be back for at least a month after he had a second surgery Oct. 1 on the knee he injured in the Western Conference quarterfinals.
The Jazz, in the midst of a rebuild after missing the playoffs for the second time in seven seasons, were led by Alec Burks' 24 points off the bench. Five other players scored in double digits.
Derrick Favors, the former No. 3 draft pick who signed a four-year extension this month, had 15 points for the Jazz but only seven after the first quarter.
The Thunder led 57-48 at halftime, then shot only 34.2 percent in the second half. The Jazz played their way back into the game as the Thunder shot 23.5 percent in the fourth quarter.
"I thought our defense in the second half was really, really good," said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin. "Our execution on offense will have to get better. ... But they're learning."
Durant tipped a pass from Burks to Favors and stole the ball, leading to a pair of free throws that gave the Thunder a 97-92 lead with 37.4 seconds left.
Later, Favors missed two foul shots with a chance to make it a one-point game, but the Jazz got there anyway when Burks knocked down two with 11.1 ticks remaining.
Jackson followed with two free throws for Oklahoma City and Durant made it a two-point game again with his 21st and 22nd free throws after a Burks dunk.
The Jazz had 6.4 seconds left and Hayward dribbled up the right side, stopping several feet in front of the 3-point line for his shot over Durant. It clanked off the front of the rim, then hit the backboard as time expired.
Favors had eight points in the first quarter, Durant countered with 11 and the teams were tied 29-29 going into the second. The Thunder closed the first half on a 9-1 run for a 57-48 lead at the break and led by as many as 15 in the third quarter.
Durant was 22-of-24 from the line ... Oklahoma City was 60-22 last season, the best record in the West, but lost in the conference semifinals to Memphis ... Thunder center Hasheem Thabeet served his one-game suspension for head-butting New Orleans center Greg Stiemsma in a preseason game Oct. 17 ... Oklahoma City won three of the four meetings between the teams last season and has taken nine of the last 11 in the series.
10/31 00:46:36 ET
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