NBA

Durant leads way as Thunder hand Kings seventh straight loss

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Associated Press
4/13/2012 11:04:47 PM
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Daequan Cook left the Oklahoma City Thunder locker room, joking that he didn't want to stick around just to hear Russell Westbrook talk about his jaw-dropping dunk.

Kevin Durant couldn't help but razz his All-Star teammate before giving him a few well-deserved compliments.

In the middle of a to-be-expected blowout by the West-leading Thunder, Westbrook stole the show with his one-handed, high-rising slam of Durant's alley-oop during Oklahoma City's 115-89 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.

"That dunk by Russ, that was nice. That was one of our best dunks of the year," said Kendrick Perkins, who had 11 points and 11 rebounds for only his second double-double of the season. "That was pretty nasty."

Durant led Oklahoma City with 29 points and nine rebounds, and Westbrook scored 22 -- none more impressive than his right-handed jam that was the highlight of an 18-2 run just before halftime that put the Thunder in control.

Westbrook had to reach back with his right hand to corral Durant's lob but was still able to power it down for an electrifying dunk that brought the sellout crowd to its feet.

"I don't want to give him too much credit. It was a great pass by myself," Durant said, eliciting an "Oh my gosh!" from Westbrook.

"No, that was one of the most athletic plays I've ever seen," Durant said. "I think it was probably the dunk of the year."

Durant later admitted that it was a "terrible" pass.

"It was kind of high, but Kevin, I guess, assumed that I could go get it," Westbrook said. "I just tried to go get it for him so we wouldn't get a turnover."

Westbrook then followed Thabo Sefolosha's 3-pointer with a driving layup, and Serge Ibaka's two free throws made it 56-37 with 40 seconds to go before halftime.

The Kings were never closer than 16 in the second half, falling behind by 23 at the end of the third quarter and by 32 in the fourth.

The Thunder (43-16) didn't even need their starters -- or top reserve James Harden, who sat out with a sore right knee -- in the fourth quarter to hang onto the best record in the Western Conference.

Rookie Isaiah Thomas scored 21 points and DeMarcus Cousins had nine points and 12 rebounds for the Kings, who dropped their seventh straight for their longest losing streak of the season.

Earlier in the day, a tentative deal to build a new arena and keep the Kings in Sacramento fell apart, leaving the future of the club beyond next season uncertain once again.

"We just focus on the games. We can't control that part," coach Keith Smart said. "That's really with our management side and our ownership group and the city.

"As far as myself and the team, I've got to focus on keeping them prepared and ready to play. They have to focus on preparing to play and playing."

Tyreke Evans, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, had a career-worst two points in only 13 minutes. He headed to the bench after picking up two fouls in the first 3 1/2 minutes, then also got a quick hook in the second half even though his foul situation didn't get any worse.

"I think foul trouble got him a little sideways a little bit early on and then after that, we were down by 25 or 30 points. I'm going to play the other guys right now because we weren't going to catch up in the game the way we were playing," Smart said.

Evans had scored 22 points to lead the Kings to a 106-101 win over Oklahoma City in the teams' first meeting this season in early February.

The Thunder, who had lost four of their previous six games, had no such trouble this time in the first of three meetings between the teams in a 12-day span.

Oklahoma City amassed a 58-41 rebounding advantage, outscored Sacramento 48-26 in the paint and blocked nine shots -- seven by Ibaka, who had 10 the last time the teams played.

"You've got to match their physicality," Smart said. "You've got to match it and if you don't match it, you're going to be pushed all over the floor."

Oklahoma City moved one game ahead of second-place San Antonio (41-16) in the West but remains tied in the loss column. The Spurs would get the tiebreaker if the teams finish with the same record.

In the race for the league's best record, the Thunder trail Chicago (45-14) by two games with seven to play.

Oklahoma City starts a five-game road trip -- matching its longest of the season -- on Saturday night at Minnesota.

NOTES: Sacramento F Jason Thompson was shaken up early in the second half when Westbrook zipped a pass off his face. He came out of the game afterward but returned midway through the fourth quarter. "I wasn't expecting the pass and it went straight into my eye," Thompson said. "For the most part, I didn't know what happened at first but it's not too serious. If it was, I wouldn't have come back into the game." ... Kings reserve Francisco Garcia missed his fourth straight game after sustaining a concussion April 7 against the Clippers. Smart said Garcia should be back next week. ... Durant, who came into the game fifth in the league with 3.6 turnovers per game, committed seven of Oklahoma City's 14 and surpassed Westbrook for the team lead.

Kevin Durant (Photo: Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE/Getty Images)
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