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Thunder stings New Orleans Hornets

Kevin Durant scored 26 points and ignited a 14-0 run in the fourth quarter.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: December 2, 2010 at 8:52 pm •  Published: November 29, 2010

The moans that filled the Oklahoma City Arena midway through the first half Monday night might have marked the lowest moment in Kevin Durant's season-long shooting slump.

Standing all alone on the right wing, Durant caught a pass and fired a bomb that a sellout crowd of 18,203 just knew would splash through the net.

It barely drew iron.

For three and a half quarters against New Orleans, this was Durant's ruthless reality.

But with just less than six minutes remaining, the Oklahoma City Thunder's star saved a much-needed 95-89 home win over the Hornets. And he did it on the defensive end.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks assigned Durant to Hornets forward David West with 5:50 left to play. West had just spent the third quarter toying with the Thunder to the tune of 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting. He muscled his way through the bulkier Jeff Green, so there was no telling the type of damage West would inflict on Durant.

“I was even surprised,” Durant said of Brooks' switcheroo.

But Durant's defense changed the game.

With the Thunder trailing 81-77, Durant ignited a 14-0 run by hounding West into 2-for-8 shooting in the final period. One of West's buckets was a meaningless dunk with one second left on the game clock.

The Thunder took the lead for good at 83-81 on two Jeff Green free throws. But it was the string of defensive trips before that enabled the spurt. West started the streak by missing a baseline jumper. Durant then blocked West's next attempt and stayed close enough to contest and force a miss on the attempt after that. Russell Westbrook buried a pull-up jumper at the other end, and Durant then rejected an Emeka Okafor dunk before Westbrook tied it at 81-all on a pair of free throws.

“I just tried to put my hand up,” Durant said. “My wingspan is one of the longest in the NBA, and I tried to use that to my advantage on the defensive end by getting blocks and steals.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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