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Thunder 106, Rockets 98

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Forward Kevin Durant scored 42 points to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 106-98 victory over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

It was Durant’s 11th 40-point game of the season.

After the Rockets trailed by 18 at one point, guard James Harden led Houston (44-20) on a run to cut the Thunder lead to five points with 8:30 left in the fourth quarter. However, Durant hit back-to-back jumpers to push advantage back to 10 points.

With 2:55 remaining, Rockets center Dwight Howard trimmed the Thunder lead to eight. After guard Russell Westbrook missed on the other end, Harden drained a 3-pointer in guard Derek Fisher’s face. Oklahoma City’s lead was back down to five.

Durant was fouled and hit two free throws before Rockets guard Francisco Garcia answered with a layup in traffic.

Houston guard Patrick Beverley fouled Westbrook on a 3-point attempt and Westbrook hit all three free throws to give Oklahoma City (47-17) a 102-94 advantage with 1:31 left.

After two Harden free throws, Durant once again shook himself open for a dagger jumper to put the game away.

Harden paced the Rockets with 28 points on 9-for-21 shooting from the field. Forward Chandler Parsons added 19 points. Howard was held to nine points and 10 rebounds.

Westbrook scored 24 points to go with seven assists and four steals. Forward Serge Ibaka had a game-high 16 rebounds, four blocked shots and 12 points.

NOTES: Even though Houston G Patrick Beverley ended Oklahoma City G Russell Westbrook’s season last year during the playoffs, the Thunder star was not interested in talking about Beverley before Tuesday night’s game. After telling the media he had nothing against Beverley, he did not want to talk about him anymore when he was asked another question. “What did I just say? That’s it,” Westbrook said. “No more questions about that.” Less than six minutes into the game, the two got tangled up and Beverley was called for a technical foul in front of the Thunder bench. … Rockets coach Kevin McHale said the team’s recent success is due to finally getting healthy. “We’ve had a weird year,” McHale said. “We had one guy hurt and another guy go out. It was a whole slew of things. So it’s better having everybody back. And you’re always a better team when you have a full complement of guys.” … Last week, a rapper named Lil B released a song “dissing” Oklahoma City F Kevin Durant. “I don’t know who that is,” Durant said. “I guess he needs attention … whoever that guy is, he needs some help.”

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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