OKLAHOMA CITY - Kevin Durant continued a scoring tear with 43 points and 10 rebounds and led a key fourth-quarter run as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Hornets, 104-93, on Wednesday night.
Durant eclipsed 40 points for the third time in four games, and he leads the NBA with five 40-point games this season.
The league’s scoring leader hit two free throws, a jumper and a 3-pointer from the right wing, and then a driving free-throw-line jumper during a 10-2 run that put the Thunder in control midway through the fourth quarter.
David West had 20 points and 15 rebounds, and Chris Paul scored 15 points for New Orleans, which has lost three of four following a 10-game winning streak.
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The win put Oklahoma City a half-game ahead of the Hornets for fourth place in the Western Conference and clinched the season series for the Thunder.
The Hornets pulled out a 91-89 win against Oklahoma City just nine days earlier in New Orleans, with Paul coming up with a steal in the final 15 seconds that led to West’s winning basket.
This time, Durant ensured there would be no late-game meltdown by the Thunder.
His hot stretch extended Oklahoma City’s six-point lead to 98-84 with 5:44 to play, and the Hornets couldn’t mount a comeback.
Gooden in bad shape: Bucks forward Drew Gooden will be sidelined four to six weeks because of lingering problems with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. General manager John Hammond says Gooden had treatment Wednesday in Los Angeles for the injury, which already has cost Gooden 21 games – including the last six. Gooden signed a $32 million, five-year contract in the offseason. He’s averaging 10.8 points and 6.5 rebounds in 25 games this season. Gooden used padding in his shoe to try to alleviate the pain, but was often limping in pregame.
Jazz trio hurting: Utah Jazz star guard Deron Williams missed his fourth straight game Wednesday night against Houston because of a wrist injury. Forward Andrei Kirilenko is already out with a left-ankle injury, and reserve center Mehmet Okur is sidelined with a lower-back strain.
Fastbreaks: The Oklahoma City Thunder recalled rookie center Cole Aldrich from the NBA development league. Aldrich was averaging 10.2 points and 8.4 rebounds in 19 starts for the Tulsa 66ers. Avery Johnson was ejected for the first time as the New Jersey Nets coach, being hit with two technical fouls in the third quarter.