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November 17, 2012

Oklahoma City cruises easily past upstart New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS — When Kevin Durant gazed across the court at the New Orleans Hornets, a young team full of potential and stars in the making like Anthony Davis, it reminded him of what the Oklahoma City Thunder were like a few years ago.

When the Hornets saw Durant slam down an alley-oop lob to punctuate a fast break and give the Thunder a 30-point first-half lead, it reminded them of how far they still have to go to match the NBA’s elite.

Durant and Kevin Martin each scored 27 points, and the Thunder rolled to their sixth victory in seven games, 110-95 over New Orleans on Friday night.

“We know what it takes to win on the road and we really respect our opponent. These guys remind me so much of us a few years back with the talent they have and the coach they have,” Durant said. “I wanted to ignite my team, not by scoring the ball or rebounding or getting assists. I was just trying to inspire them by my hard work and playing with a good intensity level.”

Serge Ibaka scored 15 for Oklahoma City, which shot 54 percent (40 of 74) and built a lead as large as 34 in the second half, allowing the starters to rest for the entire fourth quarter. Thabo Sefolosha scored 11 points, while Russell Westbrook had 10 points and 12 of the Thunder’s 31 assists.

Westbrook made only three of 11 shots, but coach Scott Brooks raved about the guard’s hustle and unselfishness.

“It was one of his better games. On both ends of the floor he was disruptive,” Brooks said. “When he plays like that, it puts a lot of pressure on the opponent, a lot of pressure on their point guard to run the offense.”

Westbrook, meanwhile, downplayed his role as a scorer, even though that’s what he has been the past couple seasons.

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