Durant leads Thunder over Pelicans, 109-95
When Pelicans 7-footer Jason Smith stepped outside for the type
of mid-range jumper he hits routinely, Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka
sprang out to the perimeter and blocked the shot.
While the Thunder can usually rely on plenty of scoring from
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, it was a concerted defensive
effort in the second half that helped them build and keep a
comfortable lead down the stretch in a 109-95 victory over New
Orleans on Friday night.
”Everybody did a great job helping each other on defense and
there was more communication,” said Ibaka, who had 17 points, 13
rebounds and three of the Thunder’s 11 blocks. ”Our focus was to
contest every shot and make them make tough shots. Some nights they
will make them but I think tonight we did a great job and that was
Durant scored 29 points and Westbrook added 25 as Oklahoma City
beat New Orleans for the ninth straight time and 14th in 15
meetings. Most of those games occurred when New Orleans’ team was
called the Hornets.
Ryan Anderson scored 18 for the Pelicans, who lost their second
straight at home while playing their third full game without power
forward Anthony Davis, sidelined by a broken left hand. New Orleans
also lost guard Tyreke Evans to a left ankle sprain late in the
third quarter, and soon afterward Oklahoma City built a 15-point
”I hate to say we didn’t play well. We just missed so many
shots in the paint,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. ”Whether
they blocked the shot or distracted us, or we threw it up there and
just didn’t make it, I thought that messed with us a little.”
New Orleans raced to an early double-digit lead, only to fall
behind 58-52 by halftime after Westbrook pulled up for a quick
3-pointer with 31 seconds left in the quarter and Reggie Jackson
hit another with 2.7 seconds left.
Westbrook said he was just trying to assure his team two
possessions inside the last 38 seconds.
”It worked out for us,” he said. ”We got two 3s out of it.
They got nothing.”
Durant, who also had three blocks, opened the second half with a
3 to make it a nine-point game and the Thunder led the entire
second half – rather comfortably throughout the fourth quarter,
going up by as many as 20.
It was precisely the type of second-half effort the Thunder
sought after giving up 35 third-quarter points in a loss at
Portland two nights earlier.
”We were really disappointed in how we lost last game and
wanted to be better,” Durant said. ”We’re a really good team
Jackson scored 15 for Oklahoma City, which shot 50.6 percent (39
of 77) and rarely allowed its lead to slip below double digits
after Thabo Sefolosha’s driving dunk made it 74-64 in the middle of
the third quarter.
Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon each scored 16 for New Orleans,
which shot 37.5 percent (33 of 88) and hurt itself by going 3 of 16
from 3-point range. Evans had 11 before his injury and Anthony
Oklahoma City shot nearly 59 percent in the opening half, when
Durant (19 points) and Westbrook (17) combined for 36 points.
New Orleans had the largest lead of the half when Holiday’s
reverse layup made it 22-11 halfway through the opening quarter.
But the Thunder chipped away, regaining the lead early in the
The game was tied at 52 after Gordon’s fast-break layup. Then
came the back-to-back 3s by Westbrook and Jackson in the final
half-minute of the second quarter, and the Thunder never trailed
NOTES: Oklahoma City, which is 9-0 at home, improved to 5-4 on
the road. … New Orleans outrebounded Oklahoma City 49-41. Smith
grabbed 12 rebounds for the Pelicans and Al-Farouq Aminu had 10.
… Oklahoma City turned 16 New Orleans turnovers into 24 points
and outscored the Pelicans in fast-break points 17-10. … New
Orleans might have lost the game by an even wider margin if not for
19 offensive rebounds and 20 second-chance points.