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MailTribune.com
  • OKC powers past Cleveland

  • CLEVELAND — As the score tightened, Kevin Durant stayed loose.
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  • CLEVELAND — As the score tightened, Kevin Durant stayed loose.
    Sitting in his warm-ups on Oklahoma City's bench, Durant knew he might be called upon again. And when he was, the NBA's leading scorer closed out Cleveland.
    "My mind's always on the game so I didn't space out," he said. "I was instantly ready."
    Durant scored 35 points, finding his shooting touch after a rough start, and made five free throws in the final minute to shut down a furious, fourth-quarter comeback and give the Thunder their 50th win, 102-95 over the injury-riddled Cavaliers on Thursday night.
    Durant missed five of his first six shots, but finally got it going. He has scored 25 or more in 33 straight games — the league's longest streak since Michael Jordan did it 40 consecutive times (1986-87).
    With the win, the Thunder, who let a 24-point lead dwindle to five in the fourth, moved within 11/2; games of San Antonio for the best record in the Western Conference. Oklahoma City played without point guard Russell Westbrook, who rested his surgically repaired knee.
    Dion Waiters scored 30 and Spencer Hawes 20 for the Cavs, who trailed 95-71 with 6:34 left before going on a 21-2 run to pull within 97-92. Durant, though, who had re-entered with 3:34 to go, made his free throws to end Cleveland's rally.
    When he took a seat after three quarters, Durant figured his night was done.
    "But that can happen in this league," Durant said. "Guys have pride and Cleveland plays extremely hard, so those guys made it a game late and we had to close it out."
    Cleveland played without injured star guard Kyrie Irving (strained biceps) and forward Luol Deng (sprained ankle).
    Durant's performance came two nights after LeBron James dropped 43 points on Cleveland, which lost its season-high fourth straight at home and has seen its playoff chances disappear.
    Durant added 11 rebounds and six assists, his biggest to Serge Ibaka for a dunk with 1:54 left after the Cavs had closed within eight.
    With the Thunder ahead by 17 entering the fourth, Durant grabbed a seat after scoring 30 in 32 minutes. Oklahoma City's reserves were having their way with the Cavs, but Cleveland quickly reeled off 11 in a row, forcing Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks to bring Durant back.
    Waiters' steal and layup got Cleveland within five, but the Thunder made sure the ball went to Durant, who then put it away at the line. But not before the Thunder had their nerves frayed.
    "You hate to talk about the last few minutes," Brooks said. "So I'm not going to."
    Reggie Jackson started for Westbrook and added 13 points. Derek Fisher had 12 and Jeremy Lamb 10.
    Rockets 129, Timberwolves 106
    At Houston, James Harden had 28 points with eight assists and Houston rolled.
    Houston trailed by as many as 10 before using a big run in the second quarter to take the lead and padding the advantage with another run to start the third quarter.
    It was Houston's second straight game without Dwight Howard, who sat out with a strained left ankle. Omer Asik started in his place and filled in ably with a season-high-tying 12 points as the Rockets won for the seventh time in 10 games.
    Kevin Love had 29 points and rookie Gorgui Dieng 22 points and 21 rebounds, which were both career-highs.
    Warriors 115, Bucks 110
    At Oakland, Calif., Stephen Curry had 31 points and 11 assists, Klay Thompson scored 29 and the Golden State Warriors moved 18 games over .500 for the first time in 20 years.
    David Lee added 22 points and 12 rebounds to help the Warriors sweat out a tougher-than-expected game against the NBA's worst team. Golden State (44-26) remains in sixth place in the tight Western Conference standings, 11/2; games behind Portland and 21/2; games ahead of Memphis and Dallas with 12 games left. The Bucks (13-56) were handed another blow in a season full of them when guard Nate Wolters broke his left hand in the first half. Reserve forward Jeff Adrien also received three stitches above his left eye before coming back in the second quarter.
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