Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/4/12
NEW YORK -- The Oklahoma City Thunder came in hot and looked flat-out steaming for most of the first three quarters, but the Brooklyn Nets made them work to the end for their sixth consecutive victory. The Thunder shot 60.6 percent from the field and did not miss a free throw until the final moments. But they still somehow couldn't shake the Nets, who hit one clutch 3-pointer after the other to nudge themselves back in the game. Finally, thanks to 32 points from Kevin Durant and 25 from Russell Westbrook, the Thunder held on for a 117-111 victory Tuesday night at the Barclays Center. The Thunder won for the 14th time in their last 16 games, and they beat the Nets for the seventh consecutive game. Brooklyn, playing without injured center Brook Lopez for the third game in a row and also missing Reggie Evans, out with the flu, could only take solace in offering a tough test to a defending NBA finalist for the second straight game. "They had three all-stars on the court. We ain't gonna feel sorry for them," Durant said with a smile of the Nets. "They are a tough team to stop, they are well-coached, they execute everything, play physical and I am glad we came here and got a win." Oklahoma City, which won by an average of 25 points in its previous four games and led by 16 in the third quarter and 10 in the fourth, couldn't put away the pesky Nets. Deron Williams led the Nets with 33 points, and Andray Blatche did a good job of filling in for Lopez, contributing 19 points and 11 rebounds. The Nets closed to within 108-106 with 2:14 left on a jumper by Joe Johnson, who scored eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter. Durant, who burned the Nets through much of the last three quarters, then drove to the basket and Kris Humphries was called for goaltending, giving the Thunder a 110-106 lead on a close call that was reviewed by the officials. "I always want to be a go-to guy in the fourth, that's what I live for," said Durant, adding he also likes to set up teammates down the stretch. Humphries' hand was ruled to have touched the ball after it hit the backboard, and multiple replays made it difficult to determine if he had hit the ball before or after it hit the board. "It was as close as it could be," Humphries said, adding that an official had echoed those words. The Nets would get no closer. Oklahoma City's Thabo Sefolosha swooped in to swipe an offensive rebound after the ball bounced back onto the court, and he scored for a 112-106 lead with 36 seconds left to all but seal the game. "That was a huge play, to get that offensive rebound and lay it up," Durant said. The Thunder led 96-86 with 10:18 left, but Williams hit two 3-pointers and Humphries and Johnson combined to score 14 points down the stretch to cut the lead to two in the final minutes. Trailing by as many as 16 and seemingly set to get steamrolled by the Thunder's sharpshooting, the Nets suddenly sprang back into the game late in the third quarter. Gerald Wallace's fourth 3-pointer in three minutes brought the Nets within 88-86 with 48 seconds left in the third, as his outside barrage coupled with five points from Jerry Stackhouse keyed a 17-9 run. Earlier in the third, Williams led the Nets back, with nine points during an 11-4 spurt, including a scoop to cut the Thunder's lead to 77-68 with 6:01 left in the period. "Deron was aggressive," Nets coach Avery Johnson said. "He spent a lot of time after practice shooting the ball. ... Deron was much more aggressive tonight and that's what we needed." The Thunder opened up some breathing room late in a tight first half. They went on a 16-4 run to take a 54-42 lead with 2:53 left before the break, when Westbrook hit a 3-pointer. Durant had started the run by scoring seven consecutive points, including a layup off a spin move sweet enough to have the Nets fans gasp and all but cheer. He would score another seven in a row at the end of the half, leading the Thunder to a 61-48 halftime lead. The last stretch included a pair of foul shots after a missed dunk, though replays indicated Nets defender Blatche had established his position to take a charge. For the growing Nets (11-6), it was a learning experience to battle the Thunder following their loss to the defending NBA champion Miami Heat. "These are two teams that have been together for a long period of time and have won at the highest level; they know how to play well together and we're still trying to figure things out," Williams said. "We've had a couple good wins, but these last two losses kind of humble you." NOTES: Lopez was out for the third consecutive game with a sprained right foot. He is day-to-day. ... Evans is expected back Friday. ... Avery Johnson, who led the Nets to a franchise-best 11 wins in November, was selected the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month. ... Westbrook fell to the floor with 8:42 left in the game, when Wallace's leg caught him in the head on a foul, but the Thunder guard remained in the game.
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