Thunder holds off rally by Jazz
BY JEFF LATZKE Associated Press
Saturday, December 01, 2012
12/01/12 at 6:50 AM
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OKLAHOMA CITY - After two straight cakewalks to start their homestand, the Oklahoma City Thunder finally got some fourth-quarter resistance against the Utah Jazz.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook still found a way to close out a perfect stretch at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Durant scored 25 points, Westbrook made a bid for his sixth career triple-double and the Thunder beat the Jazz 106-94 on Friday night.
Oklahoma City won all three games by double digits and made a bid to win three in a row by at least 20 points for the first time in 25 years before a late charge by the Jazz.
"Definitely a good homestand leading to the road," Westbrook said. "We're playing good basketball right now. Everybody's moving the ball, feeling good and hopefully we can continue it."
Westbrook ended up with 23 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists and seven steals. Kevin Martin scored 19 points for the Thunder.
Enes Kanter scored a career-high 18 points, with 14 coming in the fourth quarter as Utah pulled within five before Oklahoma City closed it out.
Westbrook came up with two of his steals - and one of his eight turnovers - during a wild, momentum-changing stretch midway through the fourth quarter.
After his two free throws stretched Oklahoma City's lead to 90-83, Westbrook swiped the ball, only for Earl Watson to steal it back, and then for Westbrook to race back up the court to get it again.
He fired a pass ahead to Kendrick Perkins, who flipped it to Durant for a two-handed slam that got the sellout crowd roaring again and the Thunder back on the path to victory.
"He makes big plays. It's not always just making a pass or scoring," Durant said. "He makes big plays that change the game, and that was a huge play for us."
Westbrook was one shy of his career high in steals and two off his best rebounding total. Serge Ibaka added 12 points and seven blocks for Oklahoma City, and Perkins also scored 12.
Al Jefferson had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz, who were without starting forward Marvin Williams due to concussion symptoms. The Jazz had a three-game winning streak snapped and lost for the second time in seven games.
"I don't feel bad at all about this loss," Jefferson said. "I think we did a great job against all odds."
The Thunder has won six in a row at home and makes a brief, two-game road swing before coming right back for five in a row in Oklahoma City.
"Every day is important for us to get better," Durant said. "I think we're having a good stretch right now."
The league's highest-scoring team, Oklahoma City locked down on defense to move ahead for good in the second quarter. The Thunder limited Utah to 30 percent shooting in the period while making 63 percent of their shots and led 54-42 at halftime. The lead got as big as 81-63 when Martin followed Nick Collison's three-point play with a jumper from the right wing with 1:47 left in the third quarter.
Thunder up next: at New Orleans / 7 p.m. Saturday / TV: FSOK-27 / Radio: KYAL fm97.1