“It’s what we take pride in,” Brooks said. “We’re a team that can score, but we’re a defensive team … Even in our last loss against Toronto, I think they shot 35 percent.”
On Friday, the Bobcats finished at 37.5 percent, one of the lowest marks of this hot streak.
But the Thunder’s offense, which struggled throughout — shooting 41 percent — had difficulty pulling away.
That is, until Durant finally took over down the stretch.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Durant had 20 points. But it came on an inefficient 20 shots. He was also 0-of-3 from deep and an uncharacteristic 2-of-4 from the line.
But in the fourth, when his slumbering teammates needed him most, their star delivered. Durant went 6-of-8 in the final 12 minutes, scoring 14 of his game-high 34 points, to go along with 12 rebounds and six assists.
In the closing minutes, with Charlotte threatening and the crowd standing, Durant hit two backbreaking step back 3-pointers.
Charlotte had a chance late, missing a potential go-ahead three in the final seconds, but Durant’s flurry proved to be the difference.
“You can’t get frustrated because that’s what he does,” Charlotte’s Kemba Walker said. “I thought we did a great job making him take tough ones. Great players make great plays.”
For the foreseeable future, with Westbrook out, the Thunder will need plenty more of that from Durant.
But more times than not, both Durant and the stingy and consistent defense have proved they can deliver.