Thunder rally to nip Pacers in overtime
Kevin Durant watched Russell Westbrook carry the Oklahoma City Thunder for most of the game, then took over at the end.
Westbrook scored a career-high 43 points, Durant had 11 of his 25 in the final two minutes and overtime, and the Thunder rallied for a 110-106 overtime victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.
The Thunder trailed by 14 points early in the third quarter and by five with 2:02 remaining in regulation.
''We were rewarded for our hard work and perseverance,'' Durant said. ''It was a good win for us tonight. Tonight was one of those games where had to grind it out.''
Down 64-50 early in the third quarter, the Thunder fought back with an 11-0 run.
''I think the guys did a great job hanging in there,'' Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. ''You like to hear words like tough and scrappy. Our team is improving in those daily.''
Durant's three-point play tied it at 96 with 45 seconds remaining in regulation. His running 5-footer gave the Thunder a 104-103 lead in overtime, and his leaning 12-footer on the ensuing possession made it 106-103 with 23 seconds remaining.
Durant also had a blocked shot, two steals and eight rebounds, and Brooks said his defense was as critical late as his offense.
''I don't look at his shooting,'' Brooks said. ''I see what he's doing all around. Kevin Durant wants to be a special player, and special players have to be two-way players.''
Indiana lost despite balanced scoring with five players in double figures, including 30 points from Danny Granger.
''We're confident we can play with anybody,'' Indiana forward Josh McRoberts said after adding 13 points and eight rebounds. That's not enough. You've got to go out and win against anybody.''
Westbrook was 13 of 24 from the field and made 17 of 18 free throws as Oklahoma City won its fifth consecutive road game.
''Russell Westbrook was very good tonight,'' Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. ''We tried different matchups. He was just too much. We didn't have what it takes to stop him. He's quickly becoming one of the better guards in the league. He's so fast and explosive.''
Westbrook had 29 points in the second half and overtime, also adding eight assists, eight rebounds and three steals.
Jeff Green added 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Thunder before fouling out, and Thabo Sefolosha had 13 points and 10 rebounds. The Thunder shot just 33 percent in the first half, but Westbrook helped keep them close with 14 points and four assists.
''We started out slow on the offensive end,'' Durant said. ''But we played hard all the way through the game. Russell did a great job tonight. Me and Jeff weren't shooting the ball well early, and great point guards take over. He did a great job of that.
''It opened up for myself and Jeff to get baskets late in the game. Russell was unbelievable.''
Westbrook's leaning 15-footer in traffic gave the Thunder a 102-100 lead, but Pacers point guard Darren Collison's twisting, flip-over-the-head 3-footer after being fouled by Sefolosha tied it at 102. Collison missed the free throw.
''They made some crazy shots all night, but I think for the most we played so hard on the defensive end and got stops,'' Durant said. ''We helped each other our and got some key blocks that allowed us to get some easy points.
Brandon Rush converted 1 of 2 free throws on the ensuing possession to give Indiana a 103-102 lead, but Durant's field goals on the Thunder's next two possessions gave the Thunder the lead for good.
Granger shot 11 of 24 for Indiana, but missed 7-of-9 3-pointers.
''This is one that we should have won in regulation,'' Granger said. ''We let it get away from us. We did a pretty good job on Durant, but Westbrook' really picked the slack and got the job done.''
NOTES: Pacers center Roy Hibbert scored nine of his 19 points in the third quarter to help Indiana maintain a five-point lead entering the final period. ... Mike Dunleavy had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Indiana, his first double-double of the season .. . . The Thunder are 6-1 on the road.