8:00 PM ET, October 30, 2009
The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI
Durant keeps Thunder on top with fourth-quarter push to beat Pistons
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Oklahoma City Thunder are a month ahead of last season's pace.
• The Thunder improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2003-04 (in Seattle).
• Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 25 points and 12 rebounds. It's the third time in Durant's career that he has had double-digit rebounds in back-to-back games.
• Russell Westbrook added 10 assists, giving him 23 assists in two games. Westbrook has two double-doubles this season after leading all rookies with 10 last season.
• The Pistons have dropped two straight to the Thunder after winning their previous eight against the franchise.
• Ben Gordon led the Pistons with 25 points, while Rodney Stuckey added 21.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
"We showed some toughness on the road against a playoff team and passed a big test," Durant said.
The franchise is 2-0 for the first time since the 2003-04 season when it was in Seattle.
The Thunder began 1-16 last season, their first in Oklahoma City, and didn't get their second victory until Nov. 29.
"It is a big win, to go into one of the best arenas in the league and win their home opener," coach Scott Brooks said.
Last season's poor start cost coach P.J. Carlesimo his job.
Ben Gordon, starting for the injured Richard Hamilton, had 25 points in his home debut for Detroit after scoring 22 in its season-opening win at Memphis. Rodney Stuckey scored 21, but had just two assists.
Hamilton, who will also be out Saturday at Milwaukee, sprained his right ankle Wednesday night in the Pistons' opener.
Durant made go-ahead free throws late in the third quarter and kept Oklahoma City ahead in the fourth with an array of shots such as a dunk, fadeaway and 3-pointer.
The young Thunder, though, had more than just Durant to beat the rebuilding Pistons.
"They are well-coached and they have a wealth of young talent," Detroit coach John Kuester said. "They've added Krstic, somebody I coached in New Jersey, Kevin Ollie, one of my favorite players of all time, and Etan Thomas, a high energy player, that gives them a nice mix."
The Pistons started strong, leading 24-16 after the first quarter, but struggled to find a rhythm on offense the rest of the game.
"Guys' body language wasn't the same in the second half as it was in the first half," Gordon said.
In the fourth quarter, Detroit didn't have an assist and it finished with more turnovers (15) than assists (12) and shot just 37 percent from the field.
"It seemed like there was a lid on that rim," Charlie Villanueva said after missing nine of 12 shots in his home debut with the Pistons.
Detroit started last season as an Eastern Conference contender, then revamped the team early in the season by trading Chauncey Billups to Denver for Allen Iverson, cap space and playing time for Stuckey. In the offseason, the Pistons lost Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess to free agency and expectations for this season plummeted.
"We're a work in progress," Kuester said after his second game as an NBA head coach.
Detroit's biggest moves over the summer were signing Gordon and Villanueva as free agents. While Gordon has delivered so far, Villanueva has made just three shots in each of his first two games.
Villanueva hopes to bounce back Saturday night at Milwaukee, which didn't make a qualifying offer to keep him as a restricted free agent.
"I'm going to be poised and let the game come to me," he said. "Hopefully, I won't miss as many shots."
The Thunder, meanwhile, look like they might be as good as they are young.
Oklahoma City's starting lineup doesn't have a player with more than five years' experience and overall, it has the second-youngest team in the league. Rookie James Harden had eight points and eight assists in his first NBA road game.
Detroit led for much of the first three quarters, then fell behind 62-61 after eight lead changes and seven ties.
The Thunder simply wouldn't let them come back in the fourth quarter as a sparse crowd thinned out in an arena that used to be regularly packed.
The Pistons announced the game was a sellout, but there were a lot of patches of unoccupied seats in the upper level.
"The fans shouldn't be discouraged," Gordon said. "It's a new team and we all knew before the season, it's a work in progress."
The Pistons paid tribute to their late owner, William Davidson, by naming the court after him and with "MR. D" stitched into the back of their collar in a permanent addition. ... Seattle started 3-0 six years ago. ... Gordon's head hit the court late in the first half and he played the second with a bandage covering three stitches above his left eyebrow. ... Detroit's starting frontcourt combined for three points, an offensive rebound, a block and eight fouls in the second half.
AUBURN HILLS, MI - OCTOBER 30: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes up for a shot against Ben...(Photo by Allen Einstein/Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||33-76 (.434)||26-70 (.371)|
|3PM-3PA||2-11 (.182)||5-17 (.294)|
|FTM-FTA||23-30 (.767)||26-34 (.765)|
|Fast Break Points||10||16|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||28 (0/0)||27 (1/0)|
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