Durant returns, but Pelicans down Thunder 112-104
Dec. 03, 2014
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Kevin Durant didn't look rusty when he drove past Anthony Davis for a two-handed dunk, or when he fired off any of his three 3-pointers.
The 27 points scored by the reigning NBA MVP in his comeback from a foot injury just wasn't enough for Oklahoma City to overcome Tyreke Evans' relentless drives to the hoop or Davis' all-around dominance.
Evans scored 15 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, Davis had 25 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, and the New Orleans Pelicans snapped a three-game skid with a 112-104 victory over the Thunder on Tuesday night.
"I was confident in myself. I knew my wind wasn't where I wanted it to be, obviously, but I felt good out there," said Durant, who missed the Thunder's first 17 games with a fractured right foot.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said before the game he'd limit Durant to 30 minutes for his first few games back, and that was how much he played in New Orleans.
"I just got to keep putting together good days and I'll keep getting back to where I want to be," Durant added. "To get back to midseason form like I want to be is going to take some time. No excuses for me. I'm out there, I got to play hard as I can no matter what and I got to go out there and be the best leader and player I can be."
The Pelicans had three players with double-doubles. Jrue Holiday had 23 points and 10 assists while Ryan Anderson had 23 points and 11 rebounds.
"We did a great job of being disciplined on our game plan, knowing what guys were going to do and we just stayed with it for four quarters," Davis said.
"We've got to defend, rebound and run. That's what we do. That's going to get our offense going," Davis added. "When we're moving the ball, sharing the ball, cutting hard and playing for each other, it makes the game a lot easier."
Russell Westbrook, in his second game back from a hand injury for the Thunder, scored 21. But he was not nearly as efficient as his previous game, when he scored 32 points in about 24 minutes in a win over New York.
Oklahoma City trailed by as many as 19 early in the third quarter. But with a lineup of reserves, the Thunder closed the quarter on a 10-3 run during which Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson each hit a pair of jumpers.
Jackson, who finished with 17 points, kept scoring early in the fourth — including a driving scoop as he was fouled and a roundhouse dunk — and the Thunder got as close as 87-82 on Perkins' layup with 10:24 left. But when Perkins complained that he was fouled while scoring, he was assessed a technical, which marked the beginning of a 13-3 Pelicans run.
Evans scored the last eight points of the spurt, all on driving layups, hitting one after he ducked under Westbrook's attempted block on a fast-break, caught a foot in the head and spun the ball in off the glass. He wound up scoring 15 straight Pelicans points.
"I was just in a zone where I felt like I could get to the basket, to the rim and nobody was going to stop me, so I just kept attacking," Evans said.
Thunder: Lamb scored 15 points. ... Oklahoma City fell to 1-8 on the road, where it will play its next two games.
Pelicans: Coach Monty Williams started Luke Babbitt at small forward and moved the 6-foot-6 Evans, who has spent most of the early season working as an undersized forward, to shooting guard. Williams said Babbitt, who ended the game shooting 7 of 12 from 3-point range, "gives us spacing on the floor." Babbitt had six points on two 3-pounters.
EARLY SURGE: The Pelicans never trailed after the middle of the second quarter, thanks to a 12-0 run during the final two minutes of the half. Davis scored seven points during the spurt, highlighted by his three-point play on a driving layup as he was fouled by Steven Adams and crashed over the baseline. Davis capped the quarter with a 17-foot jumper that brought the crowd to its feet and gave New Orleans a 69-52 lead.
Jamie Lynn Spears, younger sister of pop star Britney Spears, sang at halftime, mixing in riffs of "Oops! ... I Did It Again," in honor of her sister's birthday. The sisters grew up in Kentwood, Louisiana.
Thunder: Visit Philadelphia on Friday in the second of a three-game road swing.
Pelicans: Visit Golden State on Thursday to open three straight games in California.
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