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OKC Thunder: Kevin Durant scores 37 points in win over Memphis

by Darnell Mayberry Published: February 28, 2014

Back away from the panic button.



After three straight losses, the Thunder on Friday returned to its winning ways with a 113-107 win over Memphis inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. But even in victory, issues remain.

Consistency was the culprit this time, as the Thunder showcased, finally, a terrific first half of defensive-minded basketball only to soon see that same intensity crumble in the final 24 minutes.

Playing with passion and pride not seen in the previous three outings, Oklahoma City gave the Grizzlies just 42 first-half points — the same amount the Thunder yielded to the Cavs in a stunning fourth quarter two nights earlier. But the Thunder then gave up 65 points in the second half, including 36 in a fourth quarter in which the Grizzlies stormed back from a one-time 19-point hole and threatened to send OKC to its fourth straight home defeat when they closed to within three inside the final three minutes.

So what are we to make of Friday’s performance?

“We won,” said Russell Westbrook, who strung together his second straight stellar game, finishing with 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting with six assists and three steals. “We won. That’s what I’m going to take from it. We lost three in a row. We just won. So that’s what I’m going to take from it.”

That was the prevailing sentiment on the Thunder’s side. It didn’t matter how it came. A win was needed in the worse way. For everyone, but mostly for the fan base that was growing increasingly concerned with this team’s uncharacteristic consecutive losses.

“You guys seem to want all of us to press that panic button,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “That never even came into our mind. We weren’t happy the way we were playing. Tonight, we played better defensively but we still gave up a lot of points in that fourth quarter; even in the third quarter also.”

But the blueprint was back.

Ten seconds into the game, Westbrook poked the ball away from Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley as he attempted to orchestrate his team’s offense out beyond the 3-point line. Westbrook streaked the other way but got his pass attempt to a streaking Serge Ibaka picked off by Conley. But when the Grizzlies raced the other way, Kevin Durant stuffed Zach Randolph on a dunk attempt from the left block seven seconds later.

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