Spurs also secure rout of Clippers while Eastern Conference duo win.
There were nine games on the NBA schedule on Saturday night, but it was Kevin Durant who stole the show in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
With Russell Westbrook out injured, the emphasis on scoring is very much on Durant in his absence and he scored 23 of his 48-point haul in the fourth to guide the Thunder to a 115-111 victory, which also included the game-winner with four seconds remaining.
“I just hear a lot of stuff and I just wanted to come through for my team in the fourth quarter,” Durant said, an apparent shot at some trash talk he heard from the Wolves’ bench.
Kevin Love responded with 30 points, 14 rebounds and five assists for the Wolves, but it wasn’t enough as they let the game slip away with key missed free throws in the final 27 seconds.
The win improves the Thunder to 26-7 for the season and keeps them top of the Western Conference, while Minnesota slip to 16-17 and sit just outside the playoff spots.
Elsewhere in the West, the San Antonio Spurs routed the Los Angeles Clippers, with the latter struggling to compete without their influential point guard, Chris Paul.
Paul will be sidelined for between three to five weeks with a shoulder injury, and it looks as though fears that Doc Rivers’ side may fall off course could become reality.
Thiago Splitter had a season-high 22 points as he dominated inside the paint early on, Tim Duncan added 19 points and 11 rebounds while Tony Parker (17 points) and Manu Ginobili (15 points) helped make the game safe.
The Clippers gave up 70 points in the opening half, but despite a temporary fightback through the third and start of the fourth, the Spurs ultimately had too much firepower for them to deal with and made it comfortable with time to spare.
San Antonio are now 26-8 for the season, improving to 13-5 at home, while the Clippers slip to 23-13 although there are early suggestions that they could rapidly fall in the Western Conference standings without Paul.
Meanwhile, both the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers secured wins against the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans, while the Chicago Bulls sealed back-to-back wins following a 91-84 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
It was a good night for the Eastern Conference in general, with the Brooklyn Nets picking up a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, while the Phildelphia 76ers and Charlotte Bobcats secured impressive road wins at Portland and Sacramento respectively.
New Orleans Pelicans 82-99 Indiana Pacers
Miami Heat 110-94 Orlando Magic
Cleveland Cavaliers 82-89 Brooklyn Nets
Atlanta Hawks 84-91 Chicago Bulls
Oklahoma City Thunder 115-111 Minnesota Timberwolves
Los Angeles Clippers 92-116 San Antonio Spurs
Milwaukee Bucks 100-116 Phoenix Suns
Philadelphia 76ers 101-99 Portland Trail Blazers
Charlotte Bobcats 113-103 Sacramento Kings