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OKC Thunder beats Celtics for 11th straight home victory

Kevin Garnett returned after a two-game absence, but it wasn't even to stop the Thunder, with Russell Westbrook scoring 31 points and Kevin Durant adding 28.
BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, Published: February 22, 2012

“I wouldn't say beautiful basketball, but it was fun to play,” said Ivey, who scored eight points and supplied stretches of stellar defense. “In that kind of environment where guys are sharing the ball, it's fun. That's the way basketball is supposed to be played.”

The Thunder connected on nine of 19 3-pointers, a product of superb ball movement that mostly came on drive and kick plays and simply swing passes. OKC also shot 50 percent thanks to its unselfishness, while also scoring 27 fast break points.

Westbrook led all scores with 31 points, marking the first time he's scored at least 30 in three straight games. He added six assists and five rebounds. Durant had 28 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Cook and Harden each had 17.

“They really didn't have a shot-blocking presence inside other than Kevin Garnett,” said Harden. “We wanted to get into the paint and find our shooters, find open guys, and if a big helped out, find our bigs for easy dunks. We did a good job of that. Everybody passed the ball tonight and we got some easy buckets.”

The lone cause for concern was that for the second straight game the Thunder blew a big lead. After allowing New Orleans on Monday night to claw back from a 26-point deficit to pull within six in the final minute, the Thunder did the exact same thing against the Celtics.

Oklahoma City led 83-56 with 6 1/2 minutes remaining in the third period. Boston, however, began forcing the Thunder into turnovers — eight in the final 18 minutes — and capitalizing at the other end. When the Celtics weren't turning the Thunder's mistakes into makes, they were benefiting from their aggressiveness to get to the free throw line and manufacture points with the clock stopped. Suddenly, the Thunder's lead had shrunk to 108-102 with 3 1/2 minutes left to play.

“We got complacent,” Ivey said. “They were in attack mode because they were down and they were needing a win. We were playing on our heels. But we closed it out and we got the win and that's all that's important.”

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