Durant Scores 51 As Thunder Top Nuggets 124-118
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Kevin Durant scored a career-best 51 points for the top performance in the NBA this season, Russell Westbrook added 40 and Serge Ibaka had his first career triple-double as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Denver Nuggets 124-118 in overtime Sunday night.
Durant hit a 3-pointer and drove for a dunk to tie the game with 4.4 seconds left in regulation, then used the extra period to chalk up the first 50-point game of the two-time scoring champion’s career.
He walked slowly over to his mother, seated courtside, and gave her a kiss and a hug when the final horn sounded.
Ibaka added 14 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocks to become the 14th player in franchise history with a triple-double.
Arron Afflalo scored 27 points and Andre Miller had 21 points and 10 assists for Denver, which had a shot to win at the end of regulation.
Ty Lawson, who missed a 3-pointer with 7 seconds left, also couldn’t connect on an off-balance jumper from the foul line at the buzzer after pump-faking Westbrook into the air.
Westbrook hit a 3 on Oklahoma City’s opening possession of overtime, and the Nuggets committed five turnovers to squander their chances in the extra period.
Fans in the sellout crowd chanted “MVP!” as Durant hit two free throws in the final seconds to surpass 50 points for the first time in his career and put the finishing touches on Oklahoma City’s ninth straight win at home.
Reserve Rudy Fernandez (lower back strain) joined starters Danilo Gallinari (ankle) and Nene (calf) on the Nuggets’ injury list, and coach George Karl went with his 13th different lineup of the season in 32 games. Denver lost for the eighth time in its last 10 games. The last two have been particularly wrenching, by one point at Memphis and then an overtime thriller at Oklahoma City.
It was a wildly back-and-forth game from the start, with big swings in either direction.
The Nuggets took an early lead before allowing a 16-2 Oklahoma City run that featured a pair of 3-pointers from Durant and Westbrook’s driving dunk. Afflalo then had two jumpers and a finger roll in transition as Denver scored the final 10 points to lead 27-25.
That was only the start of the Nuggets’ big run, though.
Reserve Kosta Koufos, forced into action after Al Harrington picked up three fouls, had a three-point play and two layups set up by Andre Miller while Denver outscored the Thunder 29-7 in a span of about 7 1/2 minutes. Chris Andersen’s fast-break layup made it 46-32 with 6:29 left before halftime — Oklahoma City’s largest deficit at Chesapeake Energy Arena this season.
It still didn’t take the Thunder long to wipe it away.
Durant and Westbrook scored the next six points, and Oklahoma City went on a 20-0 run spanning halftime to get back ahead. James Harden’s 3-pointer got the lead down to 58-53 by halftime, and Westbrook scored the first three baskets of the second half to put the Thunder ahead.
Durant added a two-handed slam off Westbrook’s alley-oop and a right-handed fast-break jam in a span of three possessions, and Oklahoma City led 65-58 with 6:04 left in the third.
Then it was Denver’s turn again, rallying back to take a brief lead on Miller’s layup with under 2 minutes left in the third. The Nuggets kept it going into the fourth, getting back-to-back 3-pointers from Harrington just after Durant and Westbrook re-entered for a 93-84 advantage with 8:50 to play.
Oklahoma City whittled away at the deficit, finally pulling even at 102 when Westbrook connected on a jumper from the foul line with 2:52 to play. Ibaka swatted Lawson’s shot 20 seconds later for his 10th block in regulation.
Lawson hit a 3-pointer and Harrington two free throws for a 111-106 Denver lead with 43 seconds left, but Durant hit a second-chance 3-pointer from the top of the key and a driving dunk with 4.4 seconds left to tie it.
Notes: Thunder reserve Lazar Hayward was out with a fractured left orbital floor after being poked in the eye late in Oklahoma City’s win against Golden State on Friday. … The Nuggets (103.4) and Thunder (101.6) are two of three teams averaging more than 100 points per game, trailing only Miami (103.7) in the NBA rankings. … Lenny Wilkens, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp and Jack Sikma are among the 12 players with triple-doubles for the Seattle SuperSonics. Westbrook is the only one other than Ibaka to do it with the Thunder.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)