OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The NBA-leading Oklahoma City Thunder got their first three-day break of the season, and the Utah Jazz were playing their third road game in as many nights.
The outcome was almost too predictable.
James Harden scored 22 points, Kevin Durant added 21 and the Thunder beat Utah 111-85 on Tuesday night for their second win against the Jazz in five days.
``Knowing we were on the third game of a back-to-back and they were rested, they wanted to create a tempo that was favorable to them and not allow us to get back in the game,' Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said.
``They did a great job of just keeping the tempo up, attacking us at every moment they could and not allowing us to rest.'
The well-rested Thunder (22-6) never trailed and led by at least 12 throughout the second half on their way to a seventh straight win at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. That's the team's longest home winning streak since moving from Seattle in 2008.
Russell Westbrook chipped in 16 points for Oklahoma City, and Serge Ibaka also scored 16 to go with 10 rebounds and six blocks.
``Serge was all over the floor, rebounding the ball, blocking shots. He's getting better every game,' coach Scott Brooks said. ``His growth, his development is encouraging.
``Every day he works, and you can see the work that he puts in on the floor paying off for him.'
Al Jefferson led the Jazz with 15 points and rookie Derrick Favors scored 13. Utah started its three-game trip with a win at Memphis but followed it by allowing New Orleans to snap an eight-game losing streak.
The Jazz (14-14) then fell back to .500 for the first time since they were 3-3 on Jan. 3.
``I'm not going to blame fatigue,' said forward Gordon Hayward, who was held scoreless. ``That's just not acceptable.
``Whatever the reason was we're professionals, so back-to-back-to-back, that's our job. We've got to be prepared and we've got to be able to play.'
Utah missed a window of opportunity to cut into a 16-point lead when Westbrook headed to the bench after picking up his fourth foul - and a technical, too - with 8:03 left in the third quarter.
Counterpart Devin Harris picked up his fifth foul 40 seconds later and also came out, and the Thunder ended up adding to their lead without their All-Star point guard. Durant drove for a right-handed slam to start a spurt of seven straight Oklahoma City points, and Harden nailed a 3-pointer from the right side to make it 77-56 with 1:46 remaining in the third.
Durant and Westbrook made brief appearances in the fourth quarter, and the starters were pulled with a little under 4 minutes remaining and the Thunder leading 101-76.
Oklahoma City won 101-87 on Friday night in Salt Lake City before getting three days off in a row for the first time all season, a reward after finishing a five-game road trip and a stretch with eight of nine away from home.
``It was great to get a chance to actually practice some of our fundamentals. When you're playing as many games as we play, sometimes you get away from fundamentals and you're just trying to get through the games,' Nazr Mohammed said.
``We got a chance to go back to basics and practice some of the things that we need to do in games.'
Utah allowed Oklahoma City to shoot 55 percent, made only 36 percent of its own shots and suffered its most lopsided defeat of the season.
``We knew it was going to be a tough task, being a back-to-back-to-back game and against a team here who was going to be rested for three days. We knew they would come out and try to jump on us,' Corbin said.
``We lost the game in New Orleans and it may have knocked us off our stride a little bit. But you know what? Guys fought hard tonight. We just didn't have enough in the tank.'
The weary Jazz missed 15 of their first 16 shots while falling behind 16-4, with Durant completing a string of 10 straight points by hitting a free throw.
Jefferson finally hit a series of shots to get Utah's offense going, and the Jazz climbed back within 31-28 after Enes Kanter's three-point play off of an offensive rebound about 4 minutes into the second quarter.
Harden drove for a layup and hit a 3-pointer as Oklahoma City reeled off the next nine points, and the Thunder built the lead as big as 51-35 late in the first half when Durant followed a post-up move with a pair of free throws.
It was never close again.
Notes: Hayward's first scoreless outing of the season came after Brooks mentioned him in pregame as a candidate to be the NBA's Most Improved Player. He missed all six of his shots and committed three turnovers in 17 minutes. ... Corbin said he needs to re-think his rotation to find more playing time for first-round pick Alec Burks, who didn't play during a recent four-game stretch and then got to the foul line 10 times in a loss at New Orleans on Monday. ``That's going to be a good thing for us going forward, and we we're going to need it from him. That's why I think he deserves more time on the floor,' Corbin said. ... Thunder G Thabo Sefolosha missed his ninth straight game with a sore right foot. Daequan Cook started in his place for the seventh straight time.
The Associated Press News Service
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