NEW ORLEANS —
“I thought we competed. We just didn’t play smart — silly turnovers, defensive lapses,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “A lot of this falls on my shoulders. You have to get guys ready to play. You have to help them believe.”
Oklahoma City outshot the Hornets 50.6 percent (40 of 79) to 37 percent (30 of 81) and outscored New Orleans inside 52-34. The Thunder pushed the pace at every chance until the game was out of reach, scoring 18 fast-break points to the Hornets’ 4.
“I put a big emphasis on myself to come out every night and defend,” Westbrook said. “We did a good job of making them miss and getting out on the break to get easy points.”
Playing without top overall pick Anthony Davis (left ankle) for a seventh straight game, the Hornets tried in vain to keep pace by shooting frequently from long range, which backfired. New Orleans finished 6 of 24 from 3-point range.
“You can’t always blame the players,” Williams continued. “Some of our guys are trying their best. I have to put them in position to succeed.”
Oklahoma City took control early in the second quarter with an 11-0 run that included Durant’s 3 and his two-handed dunk on a drive down the left side of the lane. The surge made it 41-23, and the Hornets never got closer than 10 points again.
Anderson, among the NBA leaders in made 3s coming in, struggled to find his range, missing his first six from deep before finally hitting his seventh to pull New Orleans to 54-44 at halftime.
Durant then opened the second half with his second 3 and Westbrook continued to dominate, tossing up an alley-oop lob to Durant in between his own jumper and mid-range fade.
“Russell was Russell. He was able to get me open shots and I just tried to do my part,” Durant said. “He sets the tone for us by pressuring the point and disrupted them early on.”