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Durant scores 34, Thunder beat Bobcats 89-85

  • Article by: STEVE REED
  • Associated Press
  • December 28, 2013 - 8:41 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kevin Durant had 34 points and 12 rebounds, and the Oklahoma City Thunder held on to defeat the Charlotte Bobcats 89-85 Friday night without injured guard Russell Westbrook.

The Thunder announced before the game that Westbrook had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and is out until after the All-Star break.

Durant scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and finished 14 of 28 from the field. Serge Ibaka had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Thunder, who have won seven straight road games and 11 of 12 overall.

Reggie Jackson started in place of Westbrook but shot only 4 of 19 from the floor.

The Thunder managed to escape after Josh McRoberts missed a wide-open 3-pointer with 3 seconds left.

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

The Thunder led 76-74 with 5 minutes remaining when Durant knocked down a pair of 3s to give Oklahoma City the momentum. He added a step-back jumper and a driving layup to push the lead to 86-78.

Anthony Tolliver hit a 3-pointer and Walker converted a breakaway layup to cut the lead to three with 49 seconds left.

Durant left the door open when he missed a pull-up jumper with 25 seconds left, and the Bobcats grabbed the rebound.

Instead of going for a 3-pointer to tie, Walker drove the lane and scored on a layup that cut the deficit to one. Jackson was fouled on the inbounds pass and hit one of two free throws with 10.7 seconds to go.

After a timeout, Walker drove the lane and kicked out to McRoberts, who missed an open 3 from the left wing. Thabo Sefolosha made two free throws to seal the victory.

Durant is expected to take on an even bigger scoring load with Westbrook out at least 27 games. The surprising news came just two days after Westbrook had a triple-double against the New York Knicks.

General manager Sam Presti said in a news release that Westbrook has been playing pain-free, but "recently had experienced increased swelling" in his right knee.

Westbrook's knee problems began in April when he tore his meniscus in the second game of the Western Conference playoffs, sidelining him for the remainder of the postseason and diminishing Oklahoma City's chances of reaching the NBA Finals. He had a second arthroscopic surgery before training camp.

Oklahoma City is 21-3 with Westbrook in the starting lineup.

"He was playing great basketball, probably some of the best basketball in the entire league," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "We're looking forward to him coming back and getting back to the level that he has played at — and he will."

NOTES: The Bobcats embark on a five-game road trip beginning Saturday night in Atlanta. ... Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and wide receivers Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr. attended the game. ... The Thunder are 11-1 in their last 12 games against the Bobcats.

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