OKLAHOMA CITY — Forward Kevin Durant scored 21 of his game-high 42 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 112-111 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The win secured the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference for the Thunder (59-23), who will open the playoffs on Saturday at home.
With his team trailing by eight and looking anything but playoff ready, Durant began to take over offensively. He scored 15 of the Thunder’s first 19 points in the fourth quarter. That included a drive down the lane in which he dunked on Detroit forward Kyle Singler
However, the Thunder were not making up any ground. The Pistons (29-53) matched them shot for shot. Detroit guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, center Andre Drummond and forward Greg Monroe always seemed to have an answer.
But with 4:02 left in the game, Drummond fouled out, leaving the paint open for the Thunder to attack.
With 1:32 left, Oklahoma City cut the lead to three on a Durant layup. Detroit guard Brandon Jennings threw up a 30-footer that was off the mark and Thunder guard Russell Westbrook was fouled going for a loose ball. He made two free throws to close gap to 111-110.
After Thunder guard Derek Fisher blocked Caldwell-Pope’s shot at the rim, Durant missed an easy putback on the other end that would have given the Thunder the lead.
Oklahoma City got the ball back on a turnover with 18 seconds left. After a timeout, Durant got the ball on the wing and drove to the basket for a go-ahead dunk.
Detroit was unable to get a clean shot off in the final seconds and Oklahoma City held on.
Caldwell-Pope led Detroit with 30 points on 11-for-19 shooting from the field. Drummond added 22 points and 13 rebounds. Monroe had 22 points and nine assists. Singler finished with 20 points.
Westbrook had 22 points, eight assists, six steals and six rebounds. Guard Reggie Jackson came off the bench to score 15 points. Forward Serge Ibaka added 10 points, 15 boards and eight blocked shots.
NOTES: Oklahoma City F Kevin Durant led NBA in minutes and points for third time in his career. The only others to do so that often were Wilt Chamberlain (six times) and Michael Jordan (three times). … The Detroit Pistons ended the season with four players sitting out with injuries. F Josh Smith, G Will Bynum, G Chauncey Billups and C Josh Harrellson did not suit up in Oklahoma City. … Thunder coach Scott Brooks was not happy with the way former Detroit coach Maurice Cheeks was fired after only 50 games this season. “As a friend, as someone who’s been around him, I don’t think that was deserved,” Brooks said. “Nobody in this league can go into a new situation and change the culture of that organization in 50 games.” … In an interview with ESPN Houston, Rockets G James Harden was asked if he would still be with the Thunder if money were not a factor. “Definitely, no question,” Harden said. … Brooks said G Russell Westbrook’s minute restrictions would be lifted when the playoffs start.
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