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Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant lead Thunder past Jazz

BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, Published: March 23, 2011

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook probably could have taken another fourth quarter off. That sighting had almost become the norm as the Thunder won nine of its previous 11 by an average margin of 13.8 points entering Wednesday.

And with the Thunder in more control than the 11-point lead the scoreboard showed with just more than eight minutes remaining against Utah, there appeared to be little reason for the All-Star duo to return.

But Scott Brooks wasn't satisfied. The outcome, at least in the Thunder coach's mind, was far from a certainty. After Sunday's result vs. Toronto, you couldn't blame Brooks for being cautious.

That's exactly what Brooks did, playing it safe and reinserting his regulars, starting with Durant and Westbrook, before watching them polish off the visiting Jazz, 106-94, on Wednesday night inside Oklahoma City Arena.

When Westbrook and Durant checked back in with 8:11 remaining, Jazz forward Paul Millsap stood at the free throw line and made the second of two free throws to cut the Thunder's lead to 88-78. Durant and Westbrook then captained an 8-2 run in just less than two minutes to push Oklahoma City's lead to 16.

Westbrook scored on a driving layup. Durant buried a 3-pointer off an assist from Westbrook. And Durant nailed another 3 off a feed from Westbrook.

“It was a good way to finish the game,” Brooks said.

Especially after what transpired Sunday night against Toronto.

The Thunder responded to a two-point home loss to the Raptors with a decisive win over a Jazz team playing without two starters in Devin Harris, who missed the game with a hamstring injury, and Andrei Kirilenko, who did not play in the second half because of a knee injury.

The Thunder shot 54.5 percent, led by as many as 18 points and never trailed by more than one. Those figures best illustrate just how emphatically OKC took care of business. By comparison, a largely lethargic effort against the Raptors on Sunday allowed Toronto to lead by as many as 12 while seeing the game's lead change hands 17 times. Wednesday's box score

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