Thunder beat Jazz 119-111 to heat up playoff race

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 35 points, Russell Westbrook added 30 points and 11 assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder made up ground in the race for home-court advantage in the playoffs with a 119-111 victory over the short-handed Utah Jazz on Sunday night.

The Thunder shot a season-best 60 percent and never trailed while moving within a half-game of fourth-place Utah in the Western Conference. Oklahoma City has won 17 of its last 20 games and will finish no worse than .500 after going 23-59 last season.

Wesley Matthews hit six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 29 points for the Jazz, who played without injured starters Mehmet Okur (back) and Andrei Kirilenko (calf). Deron Williams had 27 points and 14 assists, and Carlos Boozer had 18 points and 11 rebounds for Utah, which has lost back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 4.

Oklahoma City, which led by 10 at halftime, made its first 12 shots of the third quarter but wasn't able to pull away much in the process. When Westbrook completed the perfect stretch by following Boozer's flubbed dunk with a driving layup, it only put the Thunder up 86-73.

The Jazz rallied back to get within 94-88 on Williams' three-point play with 8:22 remaining, but the Thunder answered with a 9-2 spurt to put the game out of reach. Boozer was called for a technical foul — his second straight game with one late in the fourth quarter — after missing a layup in the stretch.

Jeff Green followed with a right-handed jam that he turned into a three-point play, and Durant added a 3-pointer to make it 109-95 with 3:44 to play. The Thunder were 10 for 10 at the foul line after that to seal the game.

Green finished with 14 points, while Nenad Krstic and Thabo Sefolosha scored 13 apiece for the Thunder, who pulled even with Utah in the loss column with 24. Oklahoma City is 16-0 when shooting at least 50 percent from the field.

Paul Millsap, who started in place of Okur, scored 13 points. Matthews hit his first five 3-pointers before missing with 2:14 left and the Jazz down 109-100. He finished 6 for 7.

Utah, which was also without reserve Ronnie Price (wrist), has won 23 of its last 30 games.

The Thunder opened a 43-31 lead midway through the second quarter when Durant capped a run of eight straight points with his spinning jumper from the left baseline. Utah got back within five before Oklahoma City pushed its lead back to 10 at halftime.

NOTES: Jazz coach Jerry Sloan was whistled for a technical foul with 1:41 left in the first half after Durant drew a foul for the second time in the game by whirling through the arms of a Utah defender and then flailing toward the basket without the ball. It's a patented move for Durant, who leads the NBA with 572 free throws made this season. ... Utah signed swingman Othyus Jeffers to a second 10-day contract. ... The Thunder ended up making 14 of their 17 shots (82 percent) in the third quarter.