NEW YORK — Visiting Brooklyn as the hottest team in the NBA, with arguably the hottest scorer in the league in Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder disposed of the Brooklyn Nets 120-95 on Friday night for its 10th consecutive victory.
“Our guys believe in what we do and we do it together,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “That’s what the great thing is about our group. They’re very competitive. We’ve been together for a while so we understand what we do offensively and defensively and it works.”
Durant had his streak of 12 straight 30-point games snapped, scoring 26 on 10 of 12 shooting and adding seven assists. Durant sat out the entire fourth quarter as the Thunder were up by 30 points, 89-59, after three. In the past 30 years, only Kobe Bryant (16) and Tracy McGrady (14) recorded more consecutive 30-point games.
“Man, I’m glad that’s over with,” Durant said. “I’d much rather take the win, that’s my type of game. Just playing how the game is played.”
“He’s a team player. He’s a playmaker. If he cared about the streak he should’ve made those two shots. He can’t blame that on me,” Brooks said jokingly. “It doesn’t even matter to him. I’ve been around him for seven years and it’s not important to him. He’s a team guy.”
Forward Serge Ibaka showed his versatility, scoring from anywhere on the floor with 25 points on 12-of-12 shooting. Ibaka and Durant shot a combined 22 of 24 from the field.
“It was a good team win,” Brooks said. “I thought Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka were really good. … It’s been proven but we just have to keep building on it.”
Guard Reggie Jackson, who has filled in seamlessly for Russell Westbrook since going out at the end of December to have knee surgery, added 14 points and seven assists.
“We just wanted to come in here and get better from when we played them last time and get the W,” Durant said. “Everybody played great tonight.”
The Nets’ offense could not generate much against the league’s seventh-best defense, shooting 43 percent while being out-rebounded 41-17.
“I think the defense at the start of the game was really good,” Brooks said. “We played aggressive. We didn’t give Brooklyn a lot of open looks and we were getting our hands on the basketball.”
Guard Shaun Livingston led Brooklyn with 16 points as he continued to start for Deron Williams, who has chosen to start the last six games on the bench. Williams had 14 points with four turnovers to only one assists.
“We hung our heads a little bit,” Williams said. “That’s kind of the tendency we had in the beginning of the season when we weren’t sure.”
Durant started his assault on the score sheet early, dropping 22 points in the first half as the Thunder shot 61 percent from the field, building a 28-point halftime lead.
“We kept knocking down shots and that was giving us confidence early on,” Durant said. “That’s how you win games. Just playing the right way.”
After the Thunder’s second unit expanded its lead to 17 in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the second quarter, Durant returned to the game only to lead an 11-0 run that put Oklahoma City up by 24. The lead continued to balloon, swelling to as much as 32.
Even the opposition managed to take a step back and appreciate Durant’s play.
“Crazy. What he’s doing right now is just crazy,” Williams said of Durant. “The end of the year it’s going to be hard to argue about the MVP of this league with what he’s doing right now, carrying the team without Westbrook. He’s one of the best ones I’ve ever seen.”
A 15-0 first-quarter run, extending into the beginning of the second quarter, gave the Thunder an early 14-point cushion behind a three-headed scoring attack of Durant, Ibaka and center Kendrick Perkins. Durant either scored or assisted in 19 of Oklahoma City’s first 30 points.
Livingston did much of the offensive work for Brooklyn, scoring 10 of the Nets’ 16 first-quarter points.
“I honestly thought the effort was there,” Nets guard Joe Johnson said. “They kind of had us all over the place. We just couldn’t get enough stops and get out in transition so we’re taking the ball out and walking up the court, and it’s tough to win like that.”
Johnson, fresh off his selection to the Eastern Conference All-Star team, had just nine points.
NOTES: The Nets and Thunder are two of the hottest teams in the NBA. Brooklyn had won 10 of its last 12 games and Oklahoma City has now won 10 straight. … Thunder F Kevin Durant had scored 30 or more points in his previous 12 games, including 54- and two 48-point outings. He averaged 38 ppg during that span. He leads the NBA at 31.1 ppg this season. … The Thunder have been without star G Russell Westbrook since Dec. 27. Backup Reggie Jackson stepped in and was averaging 14.6 points per game since Westbrook had knee surgery. … The Nets have already defeated the Thunder once this month, using a Joe Johnson buzzer-beater in a 95-93 victory on Jan. 2. … The Nets had their five-game winning streak snapped on Monday night with a 104-103 loss to the Toronto Raptors. Both of Brooklyn’s losses this month came against Toronto.
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