ATLANTA — This, according to Russell Westbrook, is why Kevin Durant is the most lethal scorer alive.
The moment Westbrook stopped rolling Wednesday night is the exact point in time Durant said enough is enough and stepped up to deliver a second-half performance that simply was too much for Atlanta.
Durant scored 28 of his game- and season-high 41 points in the second half to lead Oklahoma City to a 100-92 win over the Hawks inside Philips Are na.
Durant closed the Hawks’ coffin with a jawdropping 18 fourth-quarter points that powered the Thunder to its 12th straight win while improving OKC’s record to a leaguebest 21-4.
“That’s why he’s the best scorer in the game,” Westbrook said. “He does that on a nightly basis for us. He wins games for us, and he’s the MVP right now.”
Westbrook wasn’t half bad himself.
He scored 21 of his 27 points in the first half, carrying the Thunder to a 17-point first-half lead when little else was going right offensively for OKC.
And that is what makes the Thunder’s duo the most dangerous in basketball.
As soon as one All-Star gets stopped, the other starts to sizzle. It’s a pickyour-poison proposition.
“There’s going to be nights where one has the hot hand, and there’s going to be nights the other guy does,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “But there’s going to also be nights where neither of them does so they have to rely on their team. That’s why I think we made the big jump passing the ball this year.”
Westbrook registered a game-high 11 assists for his team-leading 10th doubledouble and his eighth game with at least 10 assists. But as the game wore on, and Durant got more and more dialed in, the mission became simple: get Durant the ball.
“My job is to find a way to get him easy ones, whether it’s a layup, a dunk, a fast break or whatever it is,” Westbrook said. “And I know once he gets that, it’s over.”
The Thunder led 55-41 at halftime and shot 50 percent largely thanks to Westbrook’s hot start. But the Thunder got stuck in mud in the third quarter when Westbrook cooled off.
Atlanta held OKC to just 18 points in the third quarter, one more than its season-low for the period. Westbrook missed all four of his shots in the frame, and Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Martin and Nick Collison combined to go 0-for-8.