NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - The Oklahoma City Thunder found a third ingredient to go along with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook against the New Jersey Nets: some much-needed defense on a night they were held to a season-low in points.
Durant had 20 points and a season-high 15 rebounds, Westbrook added 21 points and six assists and the Thunder limited the Nets to 31 percent shooting from the field, including 3 of 23 from long range, in an 84-74 victory Saturday night.
The win came just three days after Oklahoma City was stunned by Washington in a game where they blew a 12-point second-half lead and were outrebounded.
``It was a tough loss for us,' Durant said. ``I think it was a game we should have won. Tonight, we let that go, we played hard and our defense was great tonight and we finished it with rebounding, so I am glad we got this win on the road.'
Thunder coach Scott Brooks gave a lot of the credit to his guards, who made the Nets take some tough shots. He also got a lot of help from his big guys inside, with Serge Ibaka getting a season-high five blocks and the team recording 10 overall, one shy of its season high.
``Defense is an ingredient in everything for us,' said Durant, who said he made a conscious effort to go to the boards. ``We got out with steals and got some fastbreak points. Guys played together tonight and that's what we need for us to win.'
Westbrook, playing in his first game since signing a five-year, $80 million contract extension, said the Thunder did a good job of getting their hands on loose balls and contesting the Nets' shots from long range.
``As a team, we did a good job of coming out and defending and getting a win on the road,' Westbrook said.
James Harden added 16 points and a career-high nine rebounds off the bench for Oklahoma City.
Kris Humphries had 12 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Nets. Deron Williams and MarShon Brooks had 14 points apiece and Jordan Farmar added 13.
``It just wasn't going our way,' said Williams, who left briefly in the third quarter after a collision with Ibaka. ``This is a good team we played. They lost three games all season. We knew it was going to be a tough task and we played them pretty well the last three quarters of the game. It's just the first one seemed to cost us, and just bad shooting.'
The victory was the Thunder's sixth straight against the Nets (4-12), and this one never seemed in doubt after Oklahoma City used a 17-2 spurt in the final six minutes of the first quarter to take a 28-14 lead.
Durant, who had 12 points in the quarter, started the run with a steal and a jam. Westbrook followed with a floater and Kendrick Perkins scored on a dunk from Durant to give the Thunder a 17-12 lead.
After Humphries made a layup, Oklahoma City ran off 11 straight points with Durant scoring the first two baskets and Westbrook making a shot in the lane. A 3-pointer by Reggie Jackson and a steal and a dunk by Durant pushed the lead to 14 points.
A four-point play by Anthony Morrow at the end of the quarter got the Nets within 10, but Oklahoma City kept them at arm's length the rest of the way.
``We didn't score any points,' Humphries said. ``We shot 31 percent and 13 percent. You know, Deron did the math for me a few minutes ago. It was the first quarter again.'
New Jersey got within 40-33 late in the second quarter before the Thunder scored eight straight points with the most impressive play being an ally-oop dunk by Durant on a pass from Westbrook.
Oklahoma City pushed their lead to 17 points early in the third quarter and New Jersey never challenged again.
The only interesting thing that happened down the stretch was Westbrook picked up a technical foul for mouthing off to the officials for not getting a foul call on a layup attempt on which he seemingly was nudged.
Notes: Durant's career high for rebounds is 18. ... When Nets F DeShawn Stevenson tipped in a shot in the second quarter, it was his first two-point field goal of the season. He had hit a dozen 3-pointers in his first 13 games. ... Ibaka and Perkins have recorded at least one block apiece in each of the Thunder's 16 games. Oklahoma City is the only team with two players with a block in every game. ... The Thunder are 7-2 on the road and 4-1 vs. the East. ... Humphries lost a basket in the third quarter when his dunk was reviewed and nullified by a shot clock violation.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved