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Recap: Kings , Thunder
Date: December 17, 2010 8:00 PM EDT
  

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - With the Sacramento Kings refusing to go away, it took a solid second effort for the Oklahoma City Thunder to earn their fifth straight win.

Jeff Green and Nick Collison came up with a series of key offensive rebounds to give the Thunder a cushion, and Oklahoma City used a trio of fourth-quarter spurts to put away the Kings 102-87 on Friday night.

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Sacramento, which has an NBA-worst five wins, stayed within single digits most of the night and trailed 83-77 midway through the fourth. Then, the Thunder had two separate runs of eight straight points to put the game away.

``That's where you win games at,' Green said. ``We've been playing well in the fourth quarter and getting stops, most importantly, and being precise on offense.'

Kevin Durant scored 24 points and Russell Westbrook added 21 for the Thunder, who held an opponent to 21 points or fewer in the final quarter for the fifth time in six games.

``It feels good, especially when we're winning the way we are - with defense,' Green said. ``Getting defense and getting out in transition. We've just got to keep it going.'

Serge Ibaka added 12 points and 10 rebounds, Collison had 12 points and eight rebounds and Green had 11 points and nine rebounds for Oklahoma City.

Tyreke Evans scored 22 points and DeMarcus Cousins and Beno Udrih added 19 apiece for Sacramento, which has lost 18 of its last 20 games. Cousins, the No. 5 overall pick in this year's draft, also had a career-high 16 rebounds.

``I think DeMarcus is getting better every game,' Kings coach Paul Westphal said. ``He's putting together more good minutes, and that's certainly a big start.'

Cousins logged his most playing time this season - a few ticks under 33 minutes - before running into some of the same problems that have dogged him all year and fouling out for the fourth time. He picked up his fourth and fifth fouls 12 seconds apart as the Thunder were starting to pull away in the fourth quarter, and had to head to the bench.

Cousins came back and scored four straight points to get Sacramento within 91-81, but lasted less than 2 minutes before fouling out while trying to go coast-to-coast after he swiped the ball from Westbrook.

``He's kind of rolling along OK with fouls and then he commits two in like 5 seconds. He goes from being OK to being in dire foul trouble,' Westphal said.

``Lapses of concentration and judgment right now, that's probably his biggest problem.'

Collison and Green had putbacks on consecutive possessions, then Green grabbed an offensive rebound that led to Collison's layup as the Thunder pieced together a 9-0 run early in the fourth quarter to increase their lead to 83-68 with 8:47 left. That surge pushed Oklahoma City's lead past 10 for the first time all game.

Jason Thompson had a two-handed putback dunk and Udrih hit a 3-pointer as the Kings mounted their own 9-0 response, but Oklahoma City answered right back with eight straight points to go up 91-77 after another Collison layup that was set up by Green.

Cousins then made his brief return before Durant scored six during another 8-0 run. His driving dunk made it 99-81 in the final 2 minutes.

``His conditioning is part of it and his excessive fouling is another part of it,' Westphal said. ``It's kept him from really being able to show what he can do in an extended period of time,'

Sacramento stayed close early on and had a one-point lead after the first quarter, but then Eric Maynor sparked a run of 12 straight points by Oklahoma City's bench that put the Thunder ahead to stay.

Maynor had assists on all five baskets during the stretch, finished by back-to-back dunks by Green and Collison. D.J. White's layup made it 35-25 with 7:22 left before halftime.

The Kings got within three near the end of the first half and again in the opening minutes of the third quarter before the same group of four Thunder reserves and Green put together another big run at the start of the fourth.

``That's what makes teams,' coach Scott Brooks said. ``You don't win games by having one or two players. You win by having a team that is committed to each other and play hard every night. Our guys do that.'

NOTES: Brooks said the Thunder's first weeklong stretch at home since mid-November has provided enough practice time to address offensive and defensive issues and produce some improved play. But he's giving his players Saturday off. ``At this time of the year, you're always thinking about, `I've got to shop for my family and friends,'' Brooks said. ``So, tomorrow is their day to do that.' ... G Jermaine Taylor, acquired in a trade Wednesday from Houston, was inactive for his first game with Sacramento. ... Thompson missed the final few minutes of the game while getting stitches to fix a cut on his right ring finger.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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