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Thunder 116, Bobcats 99

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Forward Kevin Durant scored 28 points to lead Oklahoma City to a 116-99 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. It was Durant’s 25th straight game with at least 25 points.

For 3 1/2 quarters, the game was close. But the Thunder used a three minute scoring outburst to put the contest away.

The Thunder (45-15) led by eight when Durant hit a turnaround jumper at the 5:43 mark in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City’s defense forced Charlotte into a shot clock violation. It led to back to back layups by Durant and forward Serga Ibaka to push the advantage to 12 points.

Charlotte (27-32) was forced to call its second time out in less than two minutes. That didn’t prevent Ibaka from blocking a shot, assisting on point guard Russell Westbrook 3-pointer and then hitting his own from the top of the key.

After guard Reggie Jackson stole the ball from Charlotte guard Kemba Walker and went in for the easy layup, Oklahoma City’s lead had ballooned from six to 20 in less than three minutes. Both teams then began to clear their bench.

Durant finished the night shooting 8-for-24 from the field to go along with five assists and six rebounds. As bad as his shooting numbers were, they were far from the worst shooting nights of his career, which was a 2-for-17 clip his rookie season.

Westbrook scored 26 points on 11-for-13 shooting. Ibaka added 15 points and 10 rebounds while Jackson came off the bench to score 17.

Center Al Jefferson paced the Bobcats with 25 points and seven boards. Forward Anthony Tolliver added 17 points and Gary Neal scored 12.

With frigid temperatures outside the arena, Durant and Westbrook started the game on fire. The duo combined for 21 of the teams 31 first points on 8-for-13 shooting.

Yet, the Bobcats stayed close behind three-point shooting and Jefferson working over the Thunder big men in the paint. Ibaka and center Steven Adams had three fouls each in the first half trying to contend with Jefferson around the rim

But it was the ability of Charlotte to run its offense through forward Josh McRoberts that Oklahoma City had the biggest difficulties dealing with Sunday night. The Bobcats trailed 61-55 at halftime.

After his first quarter start, Durant went cold and missed his next 14 shots. It wasn’t until Durant drove to the basket for a dunk over Tolliver that he got his first field goal of second half. Thunder led by four heading into the fourth.

NOTES: The Charlotte Bobcats announced Sunday that the team has requested waivers on guard Ben Gordon, which ends his two-year run with the organization. However, whichever team picks him up, will not be able to use him in this year’s postseason. Any player who had waivers requested on him by his team after March 1 is ineligible for postseason play, as per the collective bargaining agreement. … Thunder general manager Sam Presti said the team is excited to have signed free agent forward Caron Butler to a contract. He also likes the fact he played at UConn. “Those guys all happen to have lineage,” Presti said. “We talk a lot about the characteristics we look for in players. One thing about the players from UConn, they are pretty tough-minded, physical guys. They’ve played in big games and played with other elite players.” … Thunder G Thabo Sefolosha will likely be out four to six weeks after an MRI confirmed he has a calf strain. F Perry Jones III started in his place.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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