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Thunder 107, Kings 92



SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Guard Caron Butler’s sharp-shooting was more than enough for the Oklahoma City Thunder to avoid their longest road slide in five seasons.

Butler finished with 23 points and made all six of his 3-pointers, and the Thunder used a huge fourth quarter to pull away from the Sacramento Kings for a 107-92 victory at Sleep Train Arena on Tuesday night.

Oklahoma City came out on top despite receiving less-than-usual production from forward Kevin Durant. He finished with 23 points, the first time in 42 contests he didn’t tally at least 25. Durant’s 41-game streak was the third-longest in NBA history. Wilt Chamberlain set the record with an 80-game streak during the 1961-62 season. Oscar Robertson had a 46-game run in 1963-64.

Durant sat the final 6 1/2 minutes after the Thunder pulled ahead 101-77 with a 16-0 run to start the fourth quarter. Butler hit his final 3-pointer during the surge, and guard Jeremy Lamb also canned two during the run. Lamb finished with 10 points.

Butler drained eight of 10 shots overall, and the Thunder (56-21) moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers in the race for the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference playoffs. Oklahoma City plays the Clippers on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Forward Serge Ibaka contributed 19 points, and guard Reggie Jackson had 13 for Oklahoma City, which lost its previous four road contests. Oklahoma last lost five in a row on the road in 2008-09.

Center DeMarcus Cousins finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds for the Kings (27-51). Cousins’ 50th double-double of the season tied Chris Webber’s mark, set in 2000-01, for the most in a season during the franchise’s 29-season tenure in Sacramento.

Forward Travis Outlaw scored a season-high 24 points for the Kings, making 11 of 20 shots from the field and combining with Cousins to score 22 of Sacramento’s first 25 points.

The short-handed Kings were without forward Rudy Gay, and they played their eighth consecutive contest with point guard Isaiah Thomas. Gay missed his first game since Feb. 7 with a lower back strain. Thomas, who played in Sacramento’s first 70 contests, hasn’t played since bruising his left thigh March 23 against Milwaukee.

Without them, the Kings lost to the Thunder for the 10th straight time.

Sacramento used an 18-4 run in the third quarter to reduce a 69-51 deficit to 65-61, but Oklahoma City finished the quarter on an 11-6 run to take an 85-77 into the final period.

NOTES: As expected, Oklahoma City G Russell Westbrook missed the game. Westbrook, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Dec. 27, has played 42 games this season. He sat out at least one game in each of the Thunder’s back-to-back sets. … Thunder G Thabo Sefolosha returned to the starting lineup after missing 17 games due to a strained left calf. … Kings F Reggie Evans sat out with back spasms. Evans is averaging 7.4 rebounds in 20.1 minutes per game in his 22 contests with the Kings. … Sacramento F Travis Outlaw made his third start of the season, and F Jason Thompson got his first start since March 9. The Kings used their 19th starting lineup this season. … Kings G Ray McCallum set a Sacramento-era franchise record by totaling 318 minutes in the previous seven games. … The Kings, wrapping up their 25th 82-game season in Sacramento, will finish with at least 50 losses for the 14th time. A 29th win would give them their best season since 2007-08.

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

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