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Durant scores 19 as Thunder defeat Bobcats 116-94

March 9, 2013

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant sat in his locker after the game with both of his legs completely wrapped in an air pressure leg massager.

It must have been from habit.

Durant’s legs didn’t get overworked Friday night as the Oklahoma City Thunder bolted to a 29-point lead in the third quarter and coasted to their fourth straight victory with a 116-94 win over the Charlotte Bobcats.

After playing an average of 42 minutes in his last three games, Durant played less than half of the game but still managed to rack up 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds. But he was more than happy to watch most of the second half from the bench, particularly with the Thunder in the midst of four-game stretch in five nights.

“It’s good to get some rest,” Durant said. “I played 45 minutes last night and tonight (the starters) basically played a half of basketball. That’s good to get you re-energized for the next game. But it’s also good that we have such a deep team.”

Depth is what won this one for the Thunder.

Derek Fisher and Thabo Sefolosha both had 13 points for the Thunder, who blew open a close game with 19-0 run to start the second quarter with their second team on the floor.

Serge Ibaka scored 12 points, and Russell Westbrook and Kevin Martin each chipped in with 11.

The Thunder shot 59 percent from the field in the first three quarters to build a 90-66 lead and rested their starters the rest of the way.

“That second unit is a defensive unit, but they’ve shown they can also score,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.

Center Kendrick Perkins said it’s been exciting to see how the second unit has progressed.

“You are starting to get a real team chemistry with that unit as far as Fish, Reggie Jackson and Martin playing aggressive in the backcourt and Nick (Collison) taking charges and getting his hands on the ball. They’re doing a great job.”

The Thunder have won seven of their last eight.

Gerald Henderson scored 21 points to lead the Bobcats, who have lost nine straight overall and 22 of their last 24 games at home.

The Thunder swept the season series, beating the Bobcats by a combined 67 points.

After getting blown out by 45 points at Oklahoma City in their earlier meeting on Nov. 26, the Bobcats seemed determined early on not to let this one get away.

They led 29-28 at the end of the first quarter behind the hot shooting of Henderson, who knocked down his first five shots for 11 points.

But Charlotte’s lead was short-lived. Eventually, the Thunder’s talent and depth began to overwhelm the NBA-worst Bobcats.

Oklahoma City opened the second quarter by scoring 19 straight points as the Bobcats missed their first 10 shots and took nearly six minutes before Josh McRoberts knocked down an 18-footer to end a seemingly endless scoring drought.

“We just couldn’t keep them from scoring,” Henderson said. “At one point in the second quarter, we were down 18 and we didn’t know we got there. We just couldn’t stop them from scoring. That’s where they’re a well-oiled machine.”

The Thunder held a double-digit lead the rest of the way, taking a 64-50 lead into the locker room after shooting 62.2 percent from the field in the opening half. Half of their points came in the paint as Ibaka was dominant, scoring almost at will.

The Thunder outrebounded the Bobcats 49-37.

This was a break in a tough stretch of games for Oklahoma City, which defeated the Clippers, Lakers and Knicks before their arrival in Charlotte. They’ll see stiffer competition when they host Boston on Sunday and visit Sacramento on Monday.

While it may be hard to believe, the Bobcats had a 7-5 record the last time they faced the Thunder.

But their season seemed to turn with that devastating 114-69 loss. The Bobcats are 6-44 since that game and own the worst record in the NBA for the second straight season.

NOTES: The Bobcats were playing without Ramon Sessions, who is out 2-to-4 weeks with a sprained MCL. That meant more playing time for Kemba Walker, who played 31 minutes in the first three quarters. Reggie Williams saw action at point guard in the fourth quarter. ... Fisher’s 13 points were his most he’s scored in his five games with the Thunder.

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