Thunder motors past Bobcats
By CLIFF BRUNT
AP Sports Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant scored 28 points and Russell Westbrook had 26 to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder past the Charlotte Bobcats 116-99 Sunday night.
Durant made just 8 of 24 field goals, but sank all 12 of his free throws.
Westbrook was 10 of 12 from the floor in 25 minutes in his fifth game since returning from right knee surgery. Reggie Jackson scored 17 points and Serge Ibaka had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which won its second straight after losing its first three games following the All-Star break. Oklahoma City outrebounded the Bobcats 44-29.
Al Jefferson scored 25 points and Anthony Tolliver added 17 for the Bobcats, who had won four straight before losses to San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
Westbrook scored 17 points on 7-for-7 shooting in the first half to help the Thunder take a 61-55 lead at the break. Jefferson had 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting. The Bobcats shot 54 percent in the first half, but were outrebounded 20-13.
The Bobcats started off hot in the second half. A 3-point play by Gerald Henderson trimmed Oklahoma City’s lead to 61-60. The Thunder responded with a 6-0 run, including two putback baskets by Steven Adams, to take a 67-60 lead.
Westbrook showed some of his famed explosiveness after a steal. He drove down court, then extended his right arm and elevated for a powerful one-handed throwdown to give the Thunder a 77-67 lead.
The Bobcats hung tough and trailed just 85-81 at the end of the third quarter. Charlotte cut the deficit to 86-84 early in the fourth quarter, but the Thunder responded with an 8-2 run. A perfectly executed pick-and-roll ended with Durant scoring on a pass from Westbrook, and Ibaka scored on the next possession to give the Thunder a 104-92 lead and put the game out of reach.
SPURS 112, MAVS 106
SAN ANTONIO — Tony Parker had 22 points and seven assists in his return from a six-game absence, leading the San Antonio Spurs’ balanced attack in a 112-106 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Tim Duncan scored 17 points, Kawhi Leonard added 16 and Boris Diaw had 13 points and 10 rebounds for San Antonio. Manu Ginobili had 15 points and seven assists and Tiago Splitter had 11 points as the Spurs extended their winning streak to three games.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points, Vince Carter added 21 and Monta Ellis had 17 for the Mavericks, who have lost eight straight to the Spurs.
Parker looked refreshed after not playing since Feb. 10 for what was officially listed as “rest,” but unofficially was due to a series of lower body maladies.
The French point guard made his first shot, exploding through the lane from the top of the right side of the 3-point line to the left side of the rim for a leaning layup beyond the reach of Samuel Dalembert.
On the ensuing possession, Parker drove into the heart of the paint to draw the defense and fired a pass to Leonard for an open 3-pointer that gave San Antonio a 5-2 lead.
Parker finished the game 10 for 15, punctuating it with a left-handed layup to avoid Dalembert’s reach with 45 seconds remaining.
Carter kept the Mavericks in the game almost single-handedly in the first half, draining three straight 3s in the final 4 minutes after missing his first two attempts. He finished the first half shooting 6 for 11 from the field while scoring15 points.
Ellis banked in a 3-pointer to the dismay of Ginobili, pulling Dallas within 48-47 at the half.
PACERS 94, JAZZ 91
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers played just well enough to beat an inferior opponent, which has been the way most of their five-game win streak has gone.
David West scored 25 points, Paul George added 22, and the Pacers beat the Utah Jazz 94-91.
Indianapolis native Gordon Hayward had 21 points and Derrick Favors scored 17 for the Jazz, nine of them in the first eight minutes as Utah opened a 14-4 lead.
A dunk from Favors cut the Pacers’ lead to 89-86 with a minute left to play, and West missed a jumper to give Utah a chance to tie with 35 seconds remaining. Hayward cut the Indiana lead to one, but Lance Stephenson sank two free throws to seal the win.
“This was a mental toughness win,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “I thought we played with extraordinary effort for four quarters.”
The Jazz made things interesting in the game’s fourth period thanks to Hayward, who had 10 of his 21 points in the final 15 minutes. His final five points came in the final minutes.
Ian Mahinmi came off the bench to score nine points for the Pacers and provide key minutes, as Roy Hibbert struggled to contain Favors.
Utah came out of halftime to score eight unanswered points and force Indiana to call an early timeout. The Pacers retook the lead when Mahinmi was fouled on a layup. Mahinmi made the free throw to put Indiana up 60-58.
“I’ve pretty solid on defense all season long,” Mahinmi said. “My shot blocking has been up. My timing is good.”
CJ Watson, starting for the injured George Hill, scored 13 points for the Pacers. Hill sat out his second straight game with a bruised shoulder.
MAGIC 92, 76ERS 81
ORLANDO, Fla. — Tobias Harris scored a career-high 31 points and the Orlando Magic beat the Philadelphia 76ers for the second time in less than a week, winning 92-81 to extend Philadelphia’s losing streak to 14 games.
The 76ers’ skid is their longest since 1994, when they lost 15 straight, and includes a defeat last Monday to the Milwaukee Bucks, the NBA’s worst team. The 76ers have the NBA’s second-worst record, while the Magic have the third-worst.
Nikola Vucevic had 18 points and 17 rebounds for Orlando, which outscored Philadelphia 26-12 in the fourth quarter to earn the win.
“It was definitely my mindset to attack them, put pressure on their defense,” Harris said. “When I saw gaps in their defense, I wanted to attack them. They were focusing a lot on Nik tonight, so I saw a lot of openings spacing-wise that I used to my advantage.”
Both Orlando and Philadelphia have been clear that they are in rebuilding phases, and the 76ers traded two of their best players — center Spencer Hawes and guard-forward Evan Turner — on Feb. 20.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown attributed the 76ers’ new-look lineup to their recent woes, pointing to it as a reason behind his squad’s spate of turnovers against Orlando.
“We had 19 turnovers and six came from our point guards,” Brown said. “A lot of that happened when we had three of five guys on the court who have only been with each other four days. Our offense hurt us more than our defense.
“We were throwing the ball away or not knowing who to turn to. We poked ourselves in the eye with our turnovers. But give Orlando credit for raising the intensity in the fourth quarter and bothering us.”
Thaddeus Young had 29 points for Philadelphia and Michael Carter-Williams added 17 points and 11 rebounds.
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