Thunder 113, Kings 107
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)
The Oklahoma City Thunder don't like to see the kind of defensive numbers that ended up on the box score against the Sacramento Kings.
Only the fact that the Thunder won anyway provided a tiny measure of redemption.
Kevin Durant had 39 points and 10 rebounds, Russell Westbrook added 30 points and 13 assists, and Oklahoma City survived one of its worst defensive performances of the season in a 113-107 victory Tuesday night.
``We're satisfied with the win. Of course, we didn't play the way we wanted to, but you're going to have games like that,'' Durant said.
``I think that we did a better job of responding to that and coming out and scoring points and getting everybody involved, and we got stops when we needed them. That stat might be a little deceiving. We got stops in the fourth quarter, and that's when it counts.''
Rookie Tyreke Evans scored 27 points for Sacramento, which shot 54 percent and became only the seventh team to make more than half of its shots against the stingiest defense in the NBA. It was the second highest shooting percentage this season against the Thunder, who had been holding opponents to only 43.7 percent.
``Defense has got to be what we do every day,'' Oklahoma City forward Nick Collison said. ``We don't want to win with offense and outscoring teams because we know in the long run, that's not a good way to go. It's not going to work.''
The Kings were still within three after Carl Landry hit two free throws with 2:15 to play, but Nenad Krstic lobbed the ball to Durant for a two-handed alley-oop slam at the opposite end.
Landry had a follow dunk to make it 111-107 with 34 seconds left, but Sacramento opted not to foul and the shot clock ran all the way down before Durant missed a baseline jumper.
Francisco Garcia missed a contested 3-pointer in the final 5 seconds for the Kings. Durant corralled the rebound and iced the game with two free throws.
Oklahoma City shot a sizzling 67 percent in the first half and led 65-58 after Westbrook's running 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, but the Thunder couldn't shake free from the Kings on one of their hottest shooting nights of the season.
``They're banking shots in at the end at the buzzer and everything. They were shooting the ball like crazy,'' Sacramento coach Paul Westphal said. ``And then the second half, our defense, we were able to get them to miss but couldn't keep them off the glass.
``To me, we came in against a top level, playoff team in their gym in a game that they really wanted and we played a great game. We played good enough to win, except we couldn't keep them off the glass, so we lost.''
Jeff Green had 15 points and Krstic finished with 14 points and nine rebounds as Oklahoma City held a 43-32 advantage on the boards. The Thunder turned 17 offensive rebounds into 23 second-chance points.
``We didn't play great defense tonight but the last four or five minutes, we really had a couple stops in a row and that really made the game for us,'' Krstic said. ``And rebounds were huge for us, too.''
Landry added 17 points and Beno Udrih and Garcia scored 13 apiece for the Kings. Sacramento played without reserve Andres Nocioni, who was suspended after he pleaded no contest to a drunken driving charge.
The Thunder finished a perfect three-game homestand and moved a season-best 13 games over .500.
``They can win a playoff series, I'll tell you that. And if you can win one, you can win more,'' Westphal said. ``They're a very well put-together team and I'm not sure that anybody's going to look forward to playing them in the first round.''
The Kings charged back from 10 points down by scoring 11 in a row to go up 29-28 on Donte Greene's 3-pointer in the opening minute of the second quarter. The Sacramento lead reached 37-32 before Durant and Westbrook returned early from their customary rest and the Thunder scored the next five points to tie it.
Green's three-point play with 3:53 left before halftime put the Thunder up for good, and Durant had a pair of two-handed jams off Westbrook alley-oops in a three-possession span as Oklahoma City built a seven-point lead.
NOTES: Thunder coach Scott Brooks, a former Kings assistant, interviewed for Sacramento's head coaching job after Eric Musselman was fired following the 2007 season and says he was ``pretty close'' to getting it instead of Reggie Theus. ``At that time, it was a disappointment. I had an opportunity to coach a team that was 45 miles from where my mom and brothers and sisters live. ... Geoff Petrie and the Maloofs gave me an opportunity. They put me on the map to be known as a potential head coach.'' Before that, Brooks said he hadn't interviewed for a job since his mother hired him at an auto dealership - and then fired him because he was late biking there after school twice. ... The Thunder sent G Kyle Weaver and C Byron Mullens to their NBA D-League affiliate in Tulsa. Weaver hasn't played since having surgery on his separated left shoulder on Nov. 30. ``It's going to give him a great opportunity to go down there and get in game shape,'' Brooks said.