Thunder 109, 76ers 85

The Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t want to leave home on a sour

note with a difficult stretch on the road ahead.

Russell Westbrook scored 27 points, Kevin Durant added 26 and

the Thunder beat the Philadelphia 76ers 109-85 on Friday night

before heading out to play 11 of their next 13 games on the

road.

Oklahoma City made eight of its first 10 3-point attempts in the

second half and never trailed after scoring the final five points

before halftime.

The Thunder had lost 110-93 to Brooklyn on Wednesday night, but

were able to avoid posting back-to-back losses at home for the

first time since dropping two of the first three games of the

2010-11 season.

”We’ve got to take advantage of our fans and take advantage of

home court,” Westbrook said.

Oklahoma City went 23 for 36 from the field, connecting at a

sizzling 64 percent clip, while outscoring Philadelphia 63-43 in

the second half.

”Our defense was really solid the whole night. The offense was

a little slow, and coach told us going into the second half that we

could score points so quickly, we just have to stick with our

defense. That’s what we did,” Durant said.

”All we needed was to see a few shots go down.”

Serge Ibaka chipped in 15 points and 10 rebounds and Kevin

Martin had 16 points off the bench for the Thunder.

Nick Young hit five 3-pointers and led Philadelphia with 21

points. He also attempted the Sixers’ only eight free throws of the

game, making six. Oklahoma City went 21 for 27.

”We’ve got to be stronger, take that ball to the basket and

make them foul us,” Philly coach Doug Collins said. ”For one guy

to shoot a free throw tonight, I’m not saying anything that that

has anything to do with the whistle. So, I don’t want that to be

miscalculated at all.”

Jrue Holiday had 15 points and nine assists, Dorell Wright

contributed 11 points and Thaddeus Young scored 10 for

Philadelphia. Spencer Hawes pulled down 13 rebounds. The Sixers

fell to 2-5 on their eight-game road trip, which started before

Christmas and concludes Saturday night at San Antonio.

The schedule soon flips for both teams. Philadelphia will play

13 of 15 games at home after facing the Spurs. Oklahoma City will

try to maintain one of the league’s best records while heading

East, then on a pair of West Coast swings with brief stops at home

in between.

”It’s a good test for us to see where we’re at. The road is

always tough, no matter who you’re playing,” Durant said. ”We’ve

got to come out there and try to do a good job. We’re looking

forward to it.”

The Thunder opened their first double-digit lead shortly after

coach Scott Brooks came walking out on to the court to call

timeout, screaming, ”Let’s Go!” at his players after Westbrook

had turned the ball over by driving into the back of teammate

Kendrick Perkins shortly after halftime.

Neither player made an attempt to run to the opposite end of the

court, and Jason Richardson threw down a two-handed slam off

Holiday’s alley-oop.

Durant came out of the timeout and immediately drove into the

lane, kicking the ball out to Thabo Sefolosha for a 3-pointer, and

then drilled a 3 on the next trip down for a 56-46 advantage.

Richardson answered with a 3-pointer, a layup and a runner for the

Sixers before Westbrook scored six points during an 8-0 burst that

pushed the lead to 69-57 for Oklahoma City with 3:50 left in the

third quarter.

The Thunder salted it away with a 16-3 run late in the fourth

quarter, as both teams started filtering reserves onto the

court.

”They’ll hit you with a surge, and that’s what they did,”

Collins said.

After a tight first half that featured 14 lead changes, Oklahoma

City scored the final five points of the first half to take a 46-42

lead and stayed in front the rest of the way.

”They kept making shots,” Philadelphia’s Evan Turner said.

”They tried to counter off our turnovers and they got to running.

The first half, we slowed the game down and didn’t allow them to

run.”

Notes: Before the game, Collins offered his analysis of the

Thunder’s offseason deal that sent Sixth Man of the Year James

Harden to Houston for Martin. ”I think where you’re going to see

the value of James Harden is come playoff time. That’s when,”

Collins said. ”Because James Harden in so many instances, was

their point guard and Westbrook scored and Durant. I think that’s

when you’ll really see because in the playoffs, you need as many

playmakers as possible. Kevin Martin can really score that ball but

he plays off other guys. I think people don’t realize James Harden

also last year made more free throws in the fourth quarter than

anybody in the NBA.” … Country star Vince Gill watched the game

from a courtside seat along the baseline. … Oklahoma City has

played 20 of its first 32 games at home, going 17-3 at Chesapeake

Energy Arena.