Thunder 97, Bobcats 93
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP)
Jeff Green didn't need to put up huge numbers to impress his coach - but he did, anyway.
''He was really having a good shooting game - obviously, if this was a regular-season game, he would have played the fourth quarter,'' Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. ''It wasn't one of those situations where we just needed to see what happens. We want to win the game. Any time you step on the floor, you've got something to prove as a professional and as a team, and I thought the guys in the fourth quarter really showed that.''
Did Durant mind being benched after halftime?
''I was furious,'' Durant joked. ''They're just looking out for me. I had a long summer (playing for the U.S. team), at least that's what they think. ... I felt good being back on the court with my guys. Hopefully, I'll play more next game.''
Oklahoma City never trailed in the fourth quarter and held the Bobcats without a field goal during the final seven minutes.
Charlotte, which shot 48 percent, closed within one when Derrick Brown's 3-pointer made it 89-88 with 7:07 remaining. But the Bobcats' reserves managed just five points - on four free throws by Brown and one by Matt Rogers - the rest of the way. A night earlier, they were held to 25 points in the second half of an 87-72 loss at Cleveland.
''A lot of things we talked about that kind of went south in Cleveland, I think we made an effort to try and correct them,'' coach Larry Brown said. ''We played harder, shared the ball better, executed a little better. We're still playing too fast.''
Things clicked in the third quarter this time, before the shooting touch disappeared with the backups taking over in the fourth. The Bobcats used a 20-3 run shortly after halftime to erase a 12-point deficit, holding Oklahoma City to one field goal in a 6 1/2-minute span and taking advantage of some assertive play at the other end from point guard D.J. Augustin.
Augustin lofted a pretty fast-break alley-oop to Wallace two possessions before his 3-pointer made it 71-68 - the Bobcats' first lead since midway through the first quarter.
''We just tried to do what (his coach) told us,'' said Augustin, who added that he watched film of the Cleveland loss earlier before the game. ''I saw some things I could have done better. That's all I focused on today, trying to do better, and I think the whole team did the same thing.''
Brown finished with 12 points and Augustin scored 10 for Charlotte, which is adjusting to life without Raymond Felton - who left via free agency this offseason - and once again played without Augustin's backup.
Shaun Livingston missed his second straight game with soreness in his left knee. Larry Brown said Livingston developed some fluid that wasn't discovered in previous examinations, and is being cautious with him.
Center Nazr Mohammed, who had been bothered by neck spasms, finished with three points and three rebounds in 13 1/2 minutes.
The Thunder return the heart of a rotation that carried them to the Western Conference playoffs, but they opened the preseason without three guards: rookie Jerome Dyson (lower back strain), Thabo Sefolosha (illness) and Daequan Cook (concussion). That's in addition to forward Nick Collison, who has a bone bruise in his left knee, and center Nenad Krstic, who had surgery last month to repair a broken finger. Ibaka started at center in their place.
The exhibition marked a homecoming of sorts for Thunder guard Eric Maynor, who played his senior year of high school in Fayetteville after growing up across the state in Raeford.
Maynor finished with 10 points, and his jumper early in the second quarter gave Oklahoma City its first double-figure lead at 37-27.
''It's just good to come home and play in front of family and friends, especially at this level,'' Maynor said.