Kevin Durant hit two clutch shots in the final minute to preserve a four-point Oklahoma City lead, and the Thunder held on for a 97-91 win over the Chicago Bulls Thursday night.
Durant's first dagger came with 46.8 seconds remaining, on a floater reminiscent of his winner in Game Two of the Western Conference semifinals against the Lakers last season. After a Taj Gibson jump shot cut the Thunder lead to 91-89, Durant hit his second dagger, a Dirk Nowitzi-esque, one-legged fadeaway at the foul line to put the Thunder back up by four. Durant and Martin each hit two free throws to ice the victory.
Durant had 24 points for the Thunder, 10 in the fourth, where the Thunder outscored Chicago 31-19.
Luol Deng had 27 points to lead the Bulls in scoring, while Richard Hamilton had 20. The Bulls had success on the offensive glass, collecting 12 offensive rebounds and turning those into 19 second-chance points.
Russell Westbrook had another poor shooting night for OKC, going just 7-for-22 from the field, and 1-for-7 from three-point range. However, he had 12 assists against just two turnovers, and played good defense against Hamilton down the stretch. More importantly, he didn't lose his cool and start playing recklessly trying to make something happen.
Serge Ibaka had a great game for the Thunder, scoring 21 points, grabbing nine rebounds and blacking four shots.
It was a sloppy game throughout, as the two team combined for 42 turnovers, 22 for OKC.
Chicago showed early it was going to assert its will on the interior, and that force down low helped the Bulls establish a 12-4 lead, forcing a Thunder timeout. Most of the Chicago points came on jump shots, but most were thanks to passes from the post.
The Thunder battled back, ending the quarter on a 9-2 run to tie the score at 24. Ibaka showed off the jump shot he'd been working on so much in the offseason, scoring 11 point in the first quarter, including his first three-pointer of the season. Ibaka finished the first half with 15 points, tops for the team.
The Bulls kept the game close, 48-47 at halftime in favor of OKC, thanks to eight offensive rebounds.
OKC opened up a 55-50 lead in third quarter, but an 11-0 Chicago run quickly gave the Bulls the lead once again. Trailing 72-66 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Thunder went on a 17-6 run, lead mostly by the second unit, to take an 83-78 lead with 6:11 remaining in the game.
The Bulls managed to tie the score at 85 on two Hamilton free throws before Durant's heroics.
The Thunder is back at home Friday night taking on Detroit.