Posted November 16, 2012 on
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With James Harden gone, the Oklahoma City Thunder are relying on their two remaining stars more than ever.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have each logged more than 42 minutes in back-to-back games heading into Friday night's road date with the New Orleans Hornets.
The Oklahoma City All-Stars had to play big minutes in a come-from-behind win Monday at Detroit, but couldn't lead the Thunder (6-3) to another double-digit comeback in a 107-97 loss to Memphis on Wednesday night.
Durant eclipsed the 30-point mark for the first time this season with 34 in 44 minutes against the Grizzlies. Westbrook added 17 and 13 assists in 42 1/2 minutes for his fourth double-double.
Kevin Martin, who has filled Harden's old role, had a season-low seven points on just four shots.
Overall, Durant and Westbrook are playing slightly more minutes than they did last season. Durant is near the top of the league at 39.4 minutes per game, while Westbrook is averaging a career-high 36.8.
"Every game is important for us," coach Scott Brooks said. "That's how we always view our games. We have 82 big games a year. We have to give everything we have each game and not worry about saving anything for the next game."
Nevertheless, Brooks' two stars might not need to carry as much of the load against a New Orleans team the Thunder have dominated in recent years.
Oklahoma City has won eight of the last nine meetings with the Hornets (3-3), including three of the last four in New Orleans. The Thunder took all three from the Hornets in 2011-12 by an average of 9.3 points.
While they're third in the NBA in points allowed (90.5 per game), the Hornets face a tough test against the only team in the league with two players in the top 10 in scoring.
One of the keys for New Orleans, which is letting opponents get to the free-throw line at a lower rate than everyone but Minnesota (18.0 per game), will be keeping the Thunder off the stripe.
Oklahoma City has three players (Durant, Westbrook, Martin) in the top eight in attempts, and it's shooting a league-best 84.3 percent from the line.
"We're going to have to be on our game with the activity and discipline," coach Monty Williams said.
Greivis Vasquez could make things tough on the Thunder if he's able to build on Wednesday's big performance. He finished with a career-high 24 points and nine assists in New Orleans' 100-96 loss at Houston.
Vasquez, who ranks second in the Western Conference with 8.8 assists per game, is expected to play despite leaving Wednesday's game briefly in the third quarter with a sprained right ankle.
"He's coming around," Williams said. "He certainly offensively did a good job scoring and finding guys. I just love his toughness."
Ryan Anderson has also found his groove, scoring 45 points on 19 of 35 shooting with seven 3-pointers in his last two games. While the Thunder are the league's fourth-best team from beyond the arc (39.6 percent), New Orleans is fourth-worst (29.8).
Top overall pick Anthony Davis has eight blocks in two games since returning from a two-game absence due to a concussion. He'll have his hands full against Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka, who leads the NBA with 3.7 blocks per game - 0.9 more than Davis.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol was called for a technical foul during Wednesday night's NBA game against the Oklahoma City Thunder for bumping the basketball in Russell Westbrook's face.
As Westbrook made a basket by shooting over Gasol, the basket bounced off Westbrook's own face into Gasol's hands. Gasol took the basketball and bumped it off Westbrook...
Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin each scored 27 points, and the Oklahoma City Thunder rolled to their sixth victory in seven games, 110-95 over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night.
Serge Ibaka added 15 for Oklahoma City, which shot 54 percent (40 of 74) and built leads as big as 30 points in the first half and 34 in the second, allowing the starters to rest for the entire fourth...
PUT UP YOUR DUKES
After both were ejected from Wednesday's Grizzlies-Thunder game, Zach Randolph and Kendrick Perkins reportedly had a physical confrontation near the locker rooms.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin each scored 27 points, and the Oklahoma City Thunder rolled to their sixth victory in seven games, 110-95 over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night.
Serge Ibaka added 15 for Oklahoma City, which shot 54 percent (40 of 74) and built leads as big as 30 points in the first half and 34 in the second, allowing the starters to rest...
Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook lays it in for 2, Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol tries to sneak a ball to the nose.
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NEW ORLEANS - The thunder and lightning started early and ended late, and as usual, Russell Westbrook was in the middle of the meteorological firestorm. While Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin poured in 27 points each and combined for 10 3-pointers to power the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 110-95 rout of the New Orleans Hornets Friday, all Thunder coach Scott Brooks could talk about...
Rudy Gay scored a season-high 28 points, Zach Randolph added 20 points and 11 rebounds before getting ejected along with Kendrick Perkins during a late-game altercation and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 107-97 on Wednesday night.
Marc Gasol chipped in 14 points as the Grizzlies continued the best start in franchise history by winning their sixth straight game...
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Rudy Gay scored a season-high 28 points, Zach Randolph added 20 points and 11 rebounds before getting ejected along with Kendrick Perkins during a late-game altercation and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 107-97 on Wednesday night.
Marc Gasol chipped in 14 points as the Grizzlies continued the best start in franchise history by winning...
Grizzlies Zach Randolph is one of the guys in the NBA that generally speaking isn’t considered a “fake tough guy.” Thunder’s big man Kendrick Perkins is known to be extremely serious and hard core… on the court. The two had some sort of situation on court during the Grizzlies defeat of the Thunder on Wednesday [...]
Kendrick Perkins and Zach Randolph had their altercation resume into the locker room area, according to multiple eyewitnesses.
Kevin Durant continues to be one of the league's best scorers, and the Oklahoma City Thunder are reaping the benefits. That figures to be no different at home Sunday night against the Golden State Warriors, as some of Durant's best work has come against them.
The Warriors, though, hope a newfound toughness can help them slow down Durant and match their longest winning streak...
Line of the Night: It was only a matter of time before Kevin Durant (2.82 WARP) broke out in a big way; and that came last night against the Grizzlies, where Durant scored 34 points, adding 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and a couple blocks. It came in a whopping 44 minutes, but if you’re the Thunder you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do when you don’t have the league’s...
NEW ORLEANS - Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin scored 27 points each and combined for 10 3-pointers to power the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 110-95 rout of the New Orleans Hornets Friday. The 110 points were a season high for the Thunder (7-3). Their offensive production was so good they made 14 of 29 shots from 3-point range (48.3 percent), which was better than the Hornets' overall...