The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

December 27, 2013

Durant's 35 lifts Thunder over Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. —  Kevin Durant insists he can’t do it alone.

The Oklahoma City forward said he’s going to need help picking up the slack, with running mate Russell Westbrook out until after the All-Star break following knee surgery Friday.

“I need Reggie Jackson. I need Serge Ibaka. I need Kendrick Perkins. I’m not afraid to say that,” Durant said. “I need to lean on those guys, just like we need to lean on each other. That is what team is about. So through adversity we just have to lean on each other.”

But at least on this night, the Thunder leaned heavily on Durant, especially down the stretch.

Durant scored 14 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 12 rebounds as the Thunder held on to defeat the Charlotte Bobcats 89-85 Friday night.

The team announced before the game that Westbrook will miss at least 27 games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in Los Angeles.

Durant did get some help.

Ibaka had 12 points and nine rebounds and Thabo Sefolosha had 12 points and a pair of free throws with 3.5 seconds left to seal the victory for the Thunder, who have won seven straight road games and 11 of 12 overall.

But Jackson, who started in place of Westbrook, was only 4 of 19 from the floor and Perkins failed to score despite playing more than 25 minutes.

“Obviously, it was an emotional day with Russell, but I thought we did a good job of handling that,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Now we’ve got to work and improve the rest of the season.”

As for Jackson, Brooks said he has confidence that “he’ll get better. He’ll challenge himself to shoot better and he will.”

Kemba Walker led the Bobcats with 18 points and seven assists. Al Jefferson added 16 points and 11 rebounds.  

After tailing most of the game, Charlotte had a chance to steal the win with 3.9 seconds left but Josh McRoberts missed a wide-open 3-pointer from the left wing. Sefolosha was fouled and clinched it with two foul shots on the other end.

Bobcats coach Steve Clifford wasn’t satisfied with his team taking one of the league’s best teams to the wire.

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