Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

November 24, 2012

Durant, Westbrook lead Thunder over 76ers

PHILADELPHIA — No matter how many shots the Oklahoma City Thunder missed, they remained confident about the next one.

Kevin Durant scored 37 points, Russell Westbrook had 30 and the Thunder beat the Philadelphia 76ers 116-109 in overtime Saturday night.

Serge Ibaka added 18 points for the defending Western Conference champions, who’ve won nine of 11 to go to 10-4.

The Thunder missed their last seven shots in regulation, but got 3-pointers from four different players in OT.

“We weren’t making shots at the end, but I like the fact guys continued to stick with each other and trust each other,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Trust isn’t a word we throw around loosely. You’re not always going to make shots, but if a guy is open, you have to trust he’ll make the next one.”

Thad Young had a season-high 29 points and career-high 15 rebounds, and Evan Turner scored 26 points for Philadelphia, which has lost two in a row after winning three straight.

Trailing most of the game, the Sixers tied it at 94 on a dunk by Young off an underneath pass by Turner with 5:01 left.

The Thunder regained the lead on Westbrook’s driving layup and Durant’s 10-footer made it 98-94. A pair of free throws by Lavoy Allen cut it to 98-96. The teams combined for eight misses and three turnovers until Young’s layup tied it at 98 with 1:36 to go.

Each team missed its next two shots and Turner deflected away an inbound pass with 3 seconds left to send it to overtime.

That’s when the Thunder found their shooting touch from beyond the arc.

“We trust each other. We live and die with those shots. Make the right play and they came up big for us,” Durant said. “It’s part of the game. You’ve got to have trust if you want to be a good team. It doesn’t matter what. These guys are in the NBA for a reason. They can play. I trust them 100 percent to go make that shot. I think it’s going in every time.”

Durant scored Oklahoma City’s first five points on two free throws and a 3-pointer. Kevin Martin nailed a 3 to extend the lead to 106-100. Westbrook’s 3 made it 109-102. Thabo Sefolosha then sent the fans scattering for the exits with another 3 for a 112-104 lead with under a minute left.

“I left my offense in Oklahoma City,” said Martin, who was 3 for 16 against Boston and Philadelphia in consecutive games. “We all know what people are doing night in and night out. That’s when the trust comes.”

The Sixers learned before the game that All-Star center Andrew Bynum is now out indefinitely. General manager Tony DiLeo said Bynum has “bilateral bone bruises and a weakened cartilage state” in his knees. Bynum’s target date for returning to basketball activities has been pushed back four times, so the team has to move on without him at least for the immediate future.

“We got the ball out of Kevin Durant’s hands a couple of times at the end of (regulation), Sixers coach Doug Collins said. “We had a couple of shots to win the game and ours didn’t go. We had some guys play great, great games, fought, competed, played great. Evan, Thad were terrific. Jrue (Holiday) I thought was very aggressive in the first half.”

The Thunder led nearly the entire first half, going ahead by 10 on a few occasions. But after Ibaka hit a long jumper to make it 42-32, the Sixers outscored Oklahoma City 17-8 to get within a point at halftime. Jason Richardson started the run with a 3-pointer and made two more during the stretch.

Durant threw down a thunderous dunk to give Oklahoma City an 85-79 lead after three quarters.

Holiday had 10 of his 13 assists in the first half for Philadelphia.

“They made big shots down the stretch in overtime,” Young said “When you give guys looks, a lot of open looks, they eventually start lining the ball up and knocking down shots and that’s what they did.”

Notes: Richardson left with a sprained ankle. ... The Thunder are 19-3 after a loss since the start of last season, including 4-0 this year. ... Julius “Dr. J” Erving presented the ball for the opening tip-off. Erving led the Sixers to their last NBA title in 1983. ... Holiday’s 10 assists were a first-half record at the Wells Fargo Center, which opened in 1996. ... The Thunder are 5-0 in the second game of back-to-backs. ... None of Philadelphia’s games has been decided by fewer than six points.

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