Published February 20, 2012
| Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY – Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored 31 points apiece and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Hornets 101-93 Monday night for their 10th straight home win.
One night after a historic performance featuring big scoring nights from All-Stars Durant and Westbrook and a triple-double from Serge Ibaka, the Thunder built a 26-point lead and then had to scrap it out at the end.
Jarrett Jack scored 18 points to lead New Orleans, which had a surprising three-game winning streak after losing 23 of 25.
The Hornets trailed 68-42 midway through the third quarter, then made a series of runs to make it interesting right down to the final minute.
New Orleans was within six before Westbrook hit four free throws in the final 48 seconds.
Al-Farouq Aminu powered home a right-handed slam to ignite an 8-0 run that pulled New Orleans to within 97-91 after Jack's foul line jumper with 1:04 remaining.
Westbrook was fouled on a drive on Oklahoma City's next possession, and his six foul shots were all the Thunder needed to hang on down the stretch. They didn't make another basket after Durant's 3-pointer with 5:30 to play provided a 95-80 lead.
It extended the Thunder's longest home winning streak since moving to Oklahoma City. The franchise had 18 winning streaks of at least 10 games while playing in Seattle.
Ibaka had nine points and 13 rebounds and Kendrick Perkins added 13 points and six blocks for Oklahoma City
Greivis Vasquez scored 15 and Aminu chipped in 14 for New Orleans, which will celebrate Mardi Gras this year by playing a back-to-back-to-back set entirely on the road. The Hornets wore their purple, green and gold uniforms.
Oklahoma City rolled early, after having Durant score 51, Westbrook score 40 and Ibaka record his first career triple-double a night earlier against Denver. They were the first teammates in NBA history to put together a 50-point game, a 40-point game and a triple-double.
The Thunder shot 55 percent while getting out to a 60-38 halftime lead, equaling the Hornets' season-worst for points allowed in a half from the team's previous meeting in Oklahoma City. New Orleans shot only 28 percent in the first half and was hovering around 30 percent when Oklahoma City's lead bulged to 26 in the third.
Vasquez hit bookend 3-pointers and scored 10 points during a 15-3 run that got New Orleans to 71-57 with 4:06 left in the third. The Hornets then pulled to 84-74 with a 13-2 push that Jack finished off with a 3-pointer from the right wing with 9:47 remaining.
Durant came back off the bench to hit a jumper and a 3-pointer to help stem the tide for Oklahoma City, only for New Orleans to mount another rally.
Hornets coach Monty Williams stuck with a makeshift lineup featuring two players on 10-day contracts throughout the fourth quarter, and it nearly paid off.
New Orleans continued to play without Eric Gordon (knee), Carl Landry (knee), Emeka Okafor (knee) and Jason Smith (concussion) while Oklahoma City's roster was also depleted after an overtime thriller a night earlier.
Backups James Harden (sprained left ankle) and Nick Collison (left quad contusion) didn't play, joining starting shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha (foot), backup point guard Eric Maynor (knee) and reserve Lazar Hayward (eye) on the sidelines.
Both usually third-stringers, Royal Ivey hit a 3-pointer and Cole Aldrich a hook shot during a 7-0 run for the Thunder while Durant and Westbrook were on the bench late in the first quarter.
Durant had a steal that led to a right-handed slam and added a 3-pointer during a stretch of eight straight Oklahoma City points that pushed the lead above 20 for the first time in the game, with less than 3 minutes to go before halftime.
NOTES: Perkins was called for his 10th technical foul of the season in the opening 3 minutes. Players are suspended one game if they get 13 technicals this season. One of Perkins' technicals is under review by the league, and one has already been rescinded. ... Westbrook will compete against Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, San Antonio's Tony Parker and Washington's John Wall during All-Star Saturday night festivities in Orlando. ... Durant was the Western Conference player of the week.