Thunder 101, Hornets 91
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)
The Oklahoma City Thunder have finished a stretch of beating up on the NBA's weaker teams.
Now the Western Conference leaders will get to see what they can do on the road.
After wins this week at home over New Orleans and Detroit, and road wins against sub-.500 teams New Jersey and Boston, the Thunder embark on a three-game trip starting at Golden State on Friday.
''It's a challenge we can handle,'' said Oklahoma City reserve James Harden. ''We live for situations like this. It will be tough.''
The trip also takes them to Los Angeles to face the Clippers and to Dallas for a matchup with the defending champion Mavericks.
''It will be tough,'' Durant said. ''We just need to stay focused and take it a game at a time.''
The victory improved the Thunder to 15-3, the best record in the West, despite an off night from guard Russell Westbrook and 21 turnovers.
Oklahoma City led throughout, including by as many as 14 in the first half. The Hornets pulled to 83-81 with 9:07 left in the game, but Westbrook hit back-to-back shots and the Hornets never got closer than four the rest of the way.
Westbrook started 1 for 10 with four turnovers. He finished 4 of 14 for 14 points.
''Just too many turnovers,'' said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. ''Don't know. It's not like we don't work on it. It's happening and we have to correct it. We controlled the boards and the turnovers were a big part of the game. We have to do a much better job with the ball.''
Jarrett Jack scored 20 points to lead New Orleans, which lost its ninth straight - eight of those losses coming by 10 or less points. Gustavo Ayon, who came in averaging just 3.2 points, added 16 and Carl Landry 15.
''I was just proud of the fight we had,'' said Jack said. ''Playing in this building isn't easy.''
Reserve James Harden had 18 points and made 9 of 10 free throws for the Thunder, who shot 53 percent to win their third straight.
The Thunder led 60-51 at the break after shooting 60.6 percent in the opening half.
Durant didn't miss a shot in the first half, going 5 for 5 and scoring 16 points. He finished 9 of 13 and had a team-high seven rebounds.
''The second half they scored 41,'' Hornets coach Monty Williams said. ''We just had the tail of two halves. The turnovers just hurt us in the second half.''
Durant finished 9 of 13 shooting and had a team-high seven rebounds.
The Thunder offset the 21 turnovers by getting timely shooting from Daequan Cook, who hit three 3-pointers, and with 21 assists.
Brooks also said Westbrook improved as the game went on. He was 3 for 4 in the fourth quarter.
''Some shots fell for him,'' Brooks said. ''You just keep playing. You're not going to always play good basketball. You have to keep your focus and in the fourth quarter the game turned around for him.''
Notes: The Thunder's 15-3 start ties for the second-best in franchise history through 18 games. The 1982-83 and 2004-2005 team in Seattle was also 15-3. The 1993-94 Seattle team started 16-2 ... The Thunder forced five turnovers in the fourth quarter ... Hornets F Trevor Ariza was just 1 for 8 and had two points. He had scored in double figures his previous four games before Wednesday night, including 18 Monday against San Antonio ... Jack missed all three of his field goal attempts in the fourth quarter. .. New Orleans F Xavier Henry played for the first time this season and had three points on 1-for-5 shooting ... Harden had six assists for Oklahoma City.