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Kevin Durant scores 43 as Thunder beats Hornets 104-93

Thunder 104, Hornets 93
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: February 3, 2011 at 5:33 am •  Published: February 2, 2011

We knew we could break the tiebreaker if we won this game. That’s what it was all about for us.”

Durant was hot early, scoring 21 first-half points on six-of-seven shooting. Still, the Thunder trailed 55-49 at halftime thanks to a poor defensive effort and a sloppy stretch of ball security that offered Durant no assistance. OKC allowed the Hornets to make 24 of 43 shots (55.8 percent) while committing 10 turnovers leading to 12 Hornets points.

But the Thunder buckled down in the third period and got stops. Oklahoma City held New Orleans to 4-for-20 shooting in the third period and avoided a single turnover in the frame. The Thunder outscored the Hornets 32-17 in the quarter.

“I don’t know why we start of so slow,” Durant said. “But we’d rather (play well) for the last two quarters than not do it at all…We got to figure out how to start the game off right and end it right as well.”

Durant, at least on one end, had no problem there.

While the Thunder’s defense was digging in during the third quarter, Durant was deflating the Hornets. Durant scored 13 third-quarter points on an array of floaters, step-backs and 3s. He capped his flurry with a coast-to-coast baseline jumper that splashed through the net with 0.2 seconds left on the clock and gave the Thunder a nine-point lead.

“He’s been shooting the ball with ease,” said Green. “He’s been able to get any type of shot he wanted and (is) shooting the ball real well. Hopefully it continues.”

Williams has seen enough.

“When you play with that kind of confidence — and they play really well together, especially here — then he’s not just a special player,” the Hornets coach said. “He becomes a standard for that position.”