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Thunder tops Rockets behind Kevin Durant's strong finish

Kevin Durant makes go-ahead jumper with 22 seconds remaining before nailing two free throws in the 98-95 victory.
BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, Modified: January 7, 2012 at 11:07 pm •  Published: January 7, 2012

HOUSTON — Kevin Durant had to stop caring so much.

Strange as it might sound, that's been the secret to his early-season success in late-game situations.

Durant shook off a subpar shooting night to drain the game-winning jumper with 22.5 seconds remaining and lift the Thunder to a 98-95 victory over Houston on Saturday at the Toyota Center.

It was Durant's second game-winning shot in nine nights, this one coming in a building that helped build his confidence to be clutch.

“It might sound odd, but late in the game I just don't care anymore,” said Durant, who in late November of last season misfired on a jumper at the buzzer five feet to the right of the spot from which he sank his cold-blooded dagger Saturday.

“I think that's the best way to go about it. If you think about it too much, you end up overdoing it or missing it. So I just don't care. If I miss a shot, I miss it. If I make it, good.”

Durant rescued Oklahoma City from a spirited Rockets team that appeared dead set on atoning for a 15-point blowout loss to the Thunder one night earlier in Oklahoma City. After trailing by as many as 27 on Friday, the Rockets led the Thunder by as many as 12 and never let OKC's lead stretch beyond seven.

And when Durant delivered, he did so despite having missed 15 of 24 shots prior to his final field goal. But the reigning two-time scoring champ said he adopted his new attitude from former NBA forward Robert Horry, who was known for making clutch baskets. Previously, Durant said he worried too much about coming up big late.

“I wanted to be that guy to make big shots,” Durant said. “I made a few. But I really wasn't as successful as I wanted to be. I think I cared a little bit too much. Now, I'm just letting it play out. Whatever happens, happens; still be confident in myself that I can make those shots.”

Durant finished with a team-high 27 points. His last field goal came on a perfectly-executed pick-and-pop, with guard Russell Westbrook dishing an overhead flip to Durant, who only had to catch and shoot in rhythm.

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