Thunder grinds out a win at free-throw line

By John Rohde, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: March 6, 2011

In the Thunder's 122-118 overtime victory against Phoenix on Sunday night, the difference between the teams ended up being about 10 feet.

While the Suns made a living from roughly 25 feet away, the Thunder survived at the free-throw line before a sellout crowd of 18,203 inside Oklahoma City Arena.

Phoenix had 101 field-goal attempts and scored double what OKC did (42-21) from 3-point range by draining 14 of 31 shots.

The Thunder countered by outscoring the Suns 37-8 from the free-throw line, tying a season-high with 47 attempts while Phoenix attempted just 14.

The league's best free-throw shooting team (.827) once again won in its wheelhouse — the uncontested 15-footer.

Despite the Suns' monstrous shooting totals from the floor, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said his team's second-half defense came through at clutch moments.

“We made them take some tough shots,” Brooks said. “Unfortunately, they made some tough shots.”

OKC survived on a night when scoring champ Kevin Durant needed 45 minutes to score 18 points while shooting 3 for 14 from the floor.

Durant missed his first five shots and didn't convert his first field goal until burying a 3-pointer with 1:48 left before halftime.

He had two field goals in the first 86 seconds of the second half, but didn't make another shot from the floor and missed a potential game-winning 20-footer at the end of regulation.

“I can tell you now that there is no better guy who did better defensively on Durant than Grant Hill did tonight,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “I just thought Grant was great.”

Durant did convert 11 of 12 free throws, grabbed eight rebounds, had two blocked shots and two steals.

Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook had a game-high 32 points and added 11 assists. Sunday's box score



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