8:00 PM ET, January 7, 2012
Toyota Center, Houston, TX
HOUSTON -- Kevin Durant continues to improve in late-game situations -- and the star forward says he doesn't care about them.
"It might sound odd, but late in the game I just don't care anymore," Durant said of his heroics. "If you think about it too much, you end up overdoing it or missing, so I just don't care. If I miss a shot, I miss it. If I make it, I make it."
Oklahoma City (7-2) won its second straight over Houston after defeating the Rockets 109-94 Friday in Oklahoma City and plays its final game of a back-to-back-to-back stretch Sunday in San Antonio.
"When you play a team back-to-back, it's always hard to win," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "We had enough energy to win the game. We executed down the stretch and made big plays and made big shots. We hit some big free throws."
Luis Scola had a season-high 28 points and seven rebounds, Goran Dragic had a season-best 20 points and eight assists, and Kevin Martin had 16 points to lead the Rockets (2-6), who have lost four straight.
"I think we played a great game," Scola said. "This is one of the best teams in the NBA right there. At the end, we put ourselves in a situation to win the game. They were just too good. They made some great plays, and at the end of the game, it comes down to great players making great plays."
After Durant put the Thunder on top 96-95 with 22 seconds left, Chandler Parsons missed a 3-point attempt, but the ball went out of bounds off the Thunder. Dragic missed a running jumper with 7 seconds left, and Durant grabbed the rebound and was fouled.
Durant hit both free throws for the final margin before Dragic threw the ball out of bounds with less than a second remaining to seal it.
Houston coach Kevin McHale said they were trying to get the ball to Martin in the corner on the final play.
"The play was for (Martin), and they switched on (Martin)," Dragic said. "Then I saw Luis wide open, but the ball just slipped. It was high, high, but you know it was a good play. Luis was open. I just couldn't make the pass, but it was my fault, so that's it."
Durant, who scored 13 points in the fourth, said he wanted to be the guy to make big shots earlier in his career, but now, he doesn't care.
"I made a few (big shots), but I wasn't as successful as I wanted to be," Durant said. "I think I cared about it too much, so now, I'm just letting it play out. Whatever happens, happens. I'm still confident in myself that I can make those shots. Hopefully, I make more shots."
After Durant nailed a 3-pointer to put the Thunder up 90-87, the Rockets answered with a 6-0 run to take the lead on a Dragic lay-up before extending it to 93-90 on Scola's jumper with 2:03 left.
Durant closed the gap to 95-94 on a jumper with 1:22 remaining and Martin turned it over on the other end, but Durant missed a jumper with under a minute left. Patrick Patterson had a chance to put Houston back up by three, but he missed from 20 feet.
Houston began the second half with a 6-0 run to take a 52-48 lead on a Martin dunk, and answered back-to-back jumpers from Westbrook with an 14-2 run highlighted by 10 points from Dragic, including a 3-pointer with 4:41 left in the third to make it 66-54.
Oklahoma City, however, responded with a 12-0 run over the final 2:38 to tie it 72-all and ended the quarter on a lay-up by Mohammed. Westbrook and Mohammed each had four points in the run as the Rockets missed their last six shots of the quarter and committed three turnovers.
Mohammed said the Thunder came back with defense.
"We got stops, and we pushed it right down their throats," Mohammed said. "We executed. Russell did a great job of getting in the lane and knocking down shots. James hit some three's. Defense got it done."
The Thunder continued the momentum into the fourth quarter, taking an 82-77 lead on a James Harden 3-pointer with 8:42 remaining, but Houston answered with six straight points capped by a 3-pointer from Martin to put Houston back up 83-82 midway through the fourth.
Oklahoma City led 48-46 at the half behind 12 points from Durant and 11 points apiece from Westbrook and Mohammed. Scola was the only Houston player in double-figures with 12 points.
Notes: Oklahoma City back-up guard Eric Maynor was carried to the locker room with 7:47 left in the fourth quarter after a drive to the basket. Maynor immediately went down on the baseline and grabbed his right knee. The entire Thunder bench went over to check on Maynor before he was carried to the locker room by teammates. Brooks said Maynor has a right leg injury that will be re-evaluated Sunday. ... Both teams shot poorly from long range. The Thunder went 7 for 21 (33 percent) while the Rockets were 5 of 14 (36 percent). . Rockets guard Kyle Lowry missed a second straight game with a bruised right foot.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||36-85 (.424)||38-87 (.437)|
|3PM-3PA||7-21 (.333)||5-14 (.357)|
|FTM-FTA||19-22 (.864)||14-15 (.933)|
|Fast Break Points||6||19|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||16 (0/0)||21 (0/0)|
Next 5 Games
Over the two previous seasons, Kevin Durant was just 4-27 on game-tying or go-ahead shots in the final 24 seconds of the 4th quarter or overtime. After his shot against the Rockets, he has made both of his attempts this season, having also hit a buzzer-beater against the Mavericks last week.
ESPN Stats & Information