NEW ORLEANS —
Durant was somewhat below his usual standard, missing 14 of his 23 shots and not reaching double figures in scoring until his driving floater with 4:35 left in the third quarter.
Three nights earlier in Oklahoma City, the Thunder opened up a double-digit lead on reeling New Orleans in the first half and was up 25 after three quarters en route to a 116-94 victory.
Back in the Big Easy, where the Pelicans are 21-19, the matchup was far more competitive.
New Orleans held a slim lead most of the first quarter and the game got testy in the second, Rivers was angered by a prolonged screen Collison set on him. Rivers pushed his way out of the screen and soon after the two were shouting at each other as they followed the action to the Pelicans’ offensive end, where Rivers lunged at Collison.
Minutes later, Oklahoma City led by as many as six on Butler’s 3, but New Orleans closed the half with Morrow’s short jumper and Evans’ layup after he’d intercepted Thabo Sefolosha’s pass, cutting Oklahoma’s lead to 46-45 at halftime.
Notes: The loss prevented Oklahoma City from becoming the only NBA team with 60 wins in each of the past two seasons. ... The Thunder had won both previous meetings this season.
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