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Thunder 116, Jazz 96

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Forward Kevin Durant scored 31 points to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 116-96 victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday afternoon at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

After trailing by as much as 28 points, the Jazz (23-51) began to chip away at the Thunder’s lead. Spurred by guards Gordan Hayward and Alec Burks forward Derrick Favors, the Jazz pulled within 12 points with 30 seconds left in the third quarter.

However, Durant stopped the run by draining a 25-foot 3-pointer before the buzzer to push the lead to 92-77 heading into fourth. As Durant walked back to the bench, he gave Utah coach Tyrone Corbin a playful stare that made Corbin laugh.

“The guy is tremendous to watch,” Corbin said. “If you are a fan of NBA basketball, he’s incredible to watch. I like the attitude that he plays with, with his talent. The guy just seems to really love to play the game.

“He’s one of the guys you would think even if he wasn’t playing in the NBA, he would be on some park somewhere playing in a basketball game and competing at a high level.”

Durant’s last-second 3-pointer seemed to right the Thunder ship. Oklahoma City reserves closed out the fourth quarter and did not allow the Jazz to make a serious run.

Durant finished 9-of-13 from the field and had nine assists. In his past two games, he has only missed six shots combined and has not played in the fourth quarter in either game.

Guard Russell Westbrook posted 19 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Thunder (54-19). Forward Caron Butler came off the bench to score 15 points. Forward Serge Ibaka added 17 points and four blocked shots.

Center Enes Kanter paced the Jazz with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Forward Richard Jefferson scored 17 points and Favors had 13 rebounds and eight points.

NOTES: The Oklahoma City Thunder took time out Saturday to make surprise visits to fans across the area. C Kendrick Perkins and F Kevin Durant spent the day bringing gift cards to different shops across Oklahoma City in what the franchise is calling the Thunder Acts of Kindness. … Utah G Alec Burks had missed the previous four games with a sprained ankle. “He’s an attacker,” Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. “He can put pressure on the rim. We relied on too many perimeter shots with him out.” … Oklahoma City G Reggie Jackson missed his second consecutive game with a mid-back sprain. He is day to day.

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

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