For the second straight game, Kevin Durant struggled to get going early. And for the second straight game, Durant came through when it mattered most to lead the Thunder to a 104-98 victory over the Jazz (10-12).
Durant only attempted two shots in the first half, but came out of intermission firing on all cylinders. In all, Durant scored 29 points after intermission as the Thunder (16-8) were able to extend their winning streak to a league-best five games.
“We were the aggressors in the start of the third quarter. We kept fighting and made plays down the stretch,” Durant said.
Durant wasn’t the only Thunder player rolling in the second half. Both he and Russell Westbrook scored the first 20 OKC points of the third quarter to cut a 13-point halftime deficit to six points before the start of the fourth quarter.
“Russ wanted to get me going. He told me he wanted to get me some isos, get me some plays,” Durant said. “I just fed off his energy.”
Utah recovered a bit in the fourth quarter and was able to extend its lead to nine points while the Thunder offense went stale. OKC was eventually able to wake up and bring the score within one possession with less than a minute on the clock.
For most of the night Durant did his damage scoring the basketball, but with 49 seconds left in the game, it was his passing that led to the biggest shot of the night. After catching a pass on the right wing, Durant slung the ball across the court into the far left corner to Serge Ibaka, who used a pump fake to free up a shot, and swished a game-tying three-pointer.
“We had something in the post and we knew they couldn’t guard 1-on-1 down there and I had the smaller guy on me,” Durant said. “I just had to survey the floor first before I just put my head down and go, and I saw them shifting all the way over leaving Serge wide open in the corner, which is a bad move because he can make that and he made a big time play.”
Both Durant and Gordon Hayward traded two-point baskets in regulation before Durant’s game-winning jumper at the buzzer barely drew iron. The game was headed to overtime, but OKC’s second half resilience seemed to give the home team a much needed boost in the extra period.
Oklahoma City absolutely dominated in overtime, with both Westbrook and Durant capping off their extraordinary performances with a couple dazzling baskets to seal the game. While Durant and Westbrook did their thing on offense, Ibaka was ferociously protecting the rim, and finished with six blocks. The Jazz didn’t score at all during the first 4:52 of overtime as OKC cruised to a six-point win.
Westbrook finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, while also adding two blocks and two steals. Dion Waiters had a great game off the bench-- scoring 13 points-- while Enes Kanter added 10 points of his own. Rodney Hood led the Jazz in scoring with 23 points and Hayward came in right behind him with 22.
The Thunder will have two days off, and then will be back in action on Wednesday when they host the Trailblazers, before heading to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Thursday.