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April 10, 2013

Westbrook, Durant lead Oklahoma City against Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — Russell Westbrook scored 25 points, Kevin Durant added 21 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Utah Jazz 90-80 on Tuesday night.

The Thunder (57-21) continued their push to claim the top overall seed in the Western Conference, while the Jazz lost some momentum in their battle with the Los Angeles Lakers for the final playoff spot.

Utah (41-38) entered with a half-game lead and the tiebreaker over the Lakers, who faced New Orleans in a late game Tuesday.

Al Jefferson’s three-point play pulled Utah within 84-78 with 55 seconds left and Paul Millsap’s dunk made it a four-point game, but Durant hit two free throws and Westbrook stole the inbound pass to seal it for the Thunder.

Serge Ibaka helped Oklahoma City build a big lead with 10 points, four rebounds and three blocks in the third quarter.

Mo Williams scored 19 points for the Jazz, who had won two straight and seven of eight but were done in by poor shooting and sloppy play. Utah committed 17 turnovers and made just 31 of 79 shots (39.2 percent), including 7 of 25 from 3-point range.

The Thunder weren’t much better with 11 turnovers and 39.5 percent shooting, but they made 9 of 21 from 3-point range, including four by Thabo Sefolosha.

Oklahoma City led by as many as 14 after Sefolosha hit a 3-pointer with 8:42 left in the third.

The Jazz fought back behind Derrick Favors. He blocked Perkins’ shot at the rim then converted a three-point play at the other end to get the Jazz within 60-53 with 4:36 left in the third.

Each time Oklahoma City had an answer.

Westbrook’s 3-pointer bumped the Thunder lead back to 10 points, 65-55. Utah closed on a 6-3 run to pull within 68-61 entering the fourth.

Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks was asked pre-game about a statistic indicating it’s been nine years since a player has won a title the same year as logging 3,000 minutes. Durant entered the game having played 2,981 minutes.

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