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Durant On Fire As Thunder Takes Down Blazers

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

Enough is enough.

After losing both of its previous meetings with the Portland Trailblazers, Kevin Durant and the Thunder drew a line in the sand on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.  

Durant finished with 46 points on 17-25 shooting, carrying the Thunder in an emotional 105-97 win to take sole possession of first place in the Northwest Division.  

RELATED STORY:  Thunder Quotes After Huge Win Over Blazers

The Blazers stormed out of the gate from the opening tip, taking the Chesapeake Arena crowd right out of the game.  Crisp ball movement and good shot selection helped Portland vault ahead 11-2, forcing Thunder coach Scott Brooks into a timeout.  

That's when Durant found his range.  KD scored 10 of the the Thunder's first 13 points to pick OKC up off the mat.  

Durant didn't stop there, though.  He finished the first quarter with 15 points as the Thunder got back within six at 27-21 by the end of the period.  

After Mo Williams and Wesley Mathews opened the second with successive jumpers, the Thunder's energy increased dramatically.  All of the sudden, the Thunder was getting to loose balls, diving on the floor, and generally out-hustling the Blazers.  

The result flipped the momentum and put the Thunder back in control.  OKC spent the rest of the second quarter turning a 32-21 deficit into a tight ball game.  And after an entire half of chasing the lead, OKC finally caught it with eight seconds remaining.  Thabo Sefolosha's jumper put the Thunder up 51-50, but Damian Lillard's driving layup as time expired allowed Portland to take a one-point lead into the locker room.   

With 7:07 remaining in the third quarter, Sefolosha buried a 3-ball to tie the game at 62-62, but Portland was ready for another run.  

Three LaMarcus Aldridge buckets led to an 9-2 Blazers' run, putting Portland up 73-64.  But once again, the Thunder mounted a comeback.  Slowly and steadily, OKC clawed its way back into the game, and with time expiring in the third, Durant changed everything.  

KD pulled up and buried a 3-pointer with just seconds remaining to give Oklahoma City a 77-75 lead heading into the game's final stanza.  The crowd rose to its feet in the loudest ovation of the evening, and for the first time all night, this one had the feel of a Thunder win.  

RELATED STORY: Durant Enters Clint-Eastwood Mode Against Portland 

But as Portland had done all night, it spent the early part of the final period mounting a small lead.  Aldridge drained two free throws with 4:56 to play to give the Blazers a 93-88 lead, but just as the Thunder had done all night, it was time for a comeback.

"It was a game that we just fought," coach Scott Brooks said after the game.  "We had a couple of opportunities to put our head down, and you all know this is why we love this team, they don't do that.  (Portland) had everything going for them. They had a double-digit lead a couple of times, we fought back."

But before that comeback could happen, the officiating crew momentarily lost control. Durant was mugged on multiple possessions without a call, causing his emotions to spill over into a technical foul with 3:45 to play.   

After Aldridge drilled two free throws to put the Blazers up 95-90, an angry Durant put the Thunder on his back and absolutely took over.  

After sinking a driving layup, Durant pulled up from the top of the key and buried another huge 3 to tie the game.  Durant promptly turned to the Portland bench and began to scream at them, seemingly still upset over the previous possessions.  

Then, after Reggie Jackson's floater put the Thunder up by two, it was an unlikely hero that gave OKC a little breathing room.  Kendrick Perkins found himself wide open for a 12-foot jumper, and while the crowd held its breath and groaned, Perk didn't hesitate.  The big fella drained the jumper to put the Thunder up by four, whipping the crowd into a frenzy.  

"I heard a lot of people screaming ‘NO' as he shot it," Durant recalled after the game.  He just has so much confidence in his self and we have so much confidence in him.  That was a huge shot.  He played hard defense all game and to see him get rewarded with that is pretty special. I ride with Perk 'til the wheels fall off and I'm glad he hit that shot."

Speaking of Durant, he did the rest.  

Up 99-95 in the final minute, Durant pulled up and drained another huge 3, sending the Chesapeake crowd into an even louder frenzy.  And just for good measure, with 26 second left, Durant drained another 3-ball and blew the roof off the building.  

Durant said he was feeling it and saw something in the Portland defense he could take advantage of. 

"Yeah I told my team I seen something at the top of the key," Durant said. "(Nic) Batum's such a long defender, man, but he was giving me some space and I just needed a little bit of space to get my shot off.  I felt good from the 3-point line all game and I was able to knock those 3's down for us."

KD's 46 points marks the eighth straight game he has scored at least 30 points.  The record, by the way, is held by Wilt Chamberlain, who did it 65 games in a row.

Perkins was asked postgame about Durant's incredible play of late, and the big man was almost speechless. 

"I've played with some pretty good players, man, but what he's doing right now is on a whole ‘nother level," Perkins said. "His confidence in them 3s he's hitting. I don't know, like, he's in a zone. And I'm happy for him." 

Aldridge was his usual unguardable self for Portland, dropping 29 points and hauling in 16 boards. Matthews added 21 points while Lillard was held to just 14.  

Durant had some help as well. Headlining that group was Jackson, who snagged seven boards and dished out five assists to go with his 15 points.  Derek Fisher and Serge Ibaka eached added 10 points for OKC.  

The Thunder improved to 32-10, moving one game ahead of Portland (31-11) in the Northwest division.  OKC is back at it Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs. If the Thunder wins on Wednesday, it will move into a tie with San Antonio for first place in the Western Conference.  

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