Thanks to Kevin Durant's fade-away, game-winning, 25-footer at the final buzzer against the New York Knicks, the Thunder remains one of only four teams in the NBA to not lose more than two straight games this season.
The others are San Antonio (37-7), Boston (33-10) and Chicago (30-14).
Something had to give Saturday night. The Thunder (28-15) entered on a two-game losing streak after losses against the Lakers in Los Angeles and at Denver. The Knicks (22-21) now own a six-game losing streak and have lost seven of their last eight.
After starting the season 5-4 inside Oklahoma City Arena, OKC is now 16-6 at home with 19 sellouts, including 12 straight.
Thunder forward Serge Ibaka was slapped with his third technical foul of the season and now leads the Thunder. Russell Westbrook has two, while Thabo Sefolosha and James Harden have one each. Durant had one, but it was rescinded. Scott Brooks is one of only four NBA head coaches to not have a technical foul this season.
Officials had to delay the game briefly with 1:41 remaining when victory confetti fell from the ceiling during a timeout. When the victory actually came for the Thunder, what remained of the confetti was released.
With the Thunder just 5 for 37 (.135) from 3-point range the last two games, Brooks decided to activate shooting guard Daequan Cook and inserted him with 6:43 left in the second quarter. Cook went 0 for 2 and the Thunder went 5-for-17 (.294), with the game being decided on a 3-pointer from Durant at the final buzzer. Center Byron Mullens replaced Cook on the inactive list.
AZUBUIKE EYES RETURN
As he iced the long scar on his left knee an hour before tipoff, Knicks guard and former Tulsa Victory Christian standout Kelenna Azubuike insists he is close to playing for the first time since Nov. 14, 2009, after major surgery on his patella tendon.
“It's all about patience, really. I'll be back soon,” said Azubuike, who has been on the Knicks' inactive list all season. “It's been tough mentally. You've just got to stay with it. I feel myself getting better every day, I have people encouraging me. I'm good.”
The undrafted Azubuike joined the league as a free agent out of the NBA Developmental League. He played four seasons at Golden State before being traded to the Knicks last July. He is making $3.364 million and his contract expires after this season.
Azubuike played college ball for three seasons at Kentucky and averaged 39.1 points per game his senior season at Victory Christian.
“It's an underrated basketball city,” Azubuike said of Tulsa. “You're always having to prove yourself coming from here and going to camps. People don't really respect you that much. Everybody thinks the basketball wasn't that great around here, but when you got out there you had a chance to prove to everybody that it (Tulsa) was legit. You kind of help yourself out and the city out. That was always fun for me to go out there and do well in those camps.”
Asked if he still had a hard time believing Oklahoma landed an NBA team, Azubuike said: “Kind of, yeah, but it's great to see. I'm happy for the state and it's a great team they've got here.”
It was Brooks' 100th victory as Thunder coach (100-94). … OKC and NYC shot a combined 34.8 percent from the field in the second half. … The Thunder had season-high 22 offensive rebounds. … Durant's game-winner gave the Thunder its first lead since the 10:11 mark of the second quarter. … The Thunder's next home game is Friday against Washington, which has yet to win a road game this season (0-20) and plays at New York on Monday. … The Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Developmental League on Saturday won their 12th straight game and are now 20-6 on the season. … Saturday was Rumble's birthday. On hand to celebrate his birthday were mascots from Phoenix, Sacramento, Orlando, Indiana, Minnesota, Memphis, San Antonio and Utah.
“That one hurt.” – Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni