The Norman Transcript

January 3, 2013

Nets frustrate Durant, Thunder

By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript

OKLAHOMA CITY — It may be finally starting to dawn on Oklahoma City just how tough this season is going to be. Despite having the best record in the NBA, it has not been a smooth ride.

That path got a little bumpier Wednesday when a struggling Brooklyn squad came to town. The Nets ended Oklahoma City’s 12 game home win streak with a 110-93 victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena. In the process they frustrated a Thunder squad with their physical play.

“Teams are going to make shots on us,” Kevin Durant said. “Every team that comes in here seems to have it out for us. Guys that usually don’t make shots, make shots against us. When you are Western Conference Champs and make it to the finals, everybody wants a piece of us, everybody wants to beat us. We know teams are going to give us their best shot.”

After falling behind by 23 points in the first half, the Thunder stormed back in the second half to make a game of it. In the fourth, Oklahoma City tied the contest at 85-85 on consecutive 3-pointers from Durant and Kevin Martin with seven minutes left in the game.

However, Joe Johnson answered with a jumper over Durant and Keith Bogans was fouled and knocked down to free throws to start an 8-0 run for the Nets.

Oklahoma City was unable to get any closer as Brooklyn continued to have its way. With 1:57 left in the game, Durant was ejected and Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks emptied his bench.

Joe Johnson led all scorers with 33 points on 11-of-19 shooting and took the Thunder’s defense tactic as a personal challenge.

“When you get a couple of easy buckets, the basket just gets a little bigger,” Johnson said. “I notice they were playing me one on one straight up. There wasn’t any double-team. So I just tried to take advantage.”

Deron Williams scored 19 points and dished out 13 assists for the Nets (17-15). Brook Lopez added 25 points.

Durant led Oklahoma City (24-7) with 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting. Russell Westbrook chipped in with 26 points and 10 assists in the loss.

For one of the few times this season, Oklahoma City shot fewer free throw attempts than its opponent. While the Nets were 25 of 29 from the line, the Thunder attempted only 17, which led to Durant’s early exit.

“I told him it was a bad call,” an upset Durant said. “I think I’m allowed to be frustrated. Especially in this league with the ups and downs. Players are allowed to be frustrated.”

Johnson and Lopez had their way early with the Thunder’s defense. Lopez took advantage of Kendrick Perkins in the low post while Johnson had his midrange jumper going.

Brooklyn held a 33-19 advantage heading into the second quarter.

The Nets pushed their lead to 23 midway through the second as Oklahoma City continued to struggle defensively. It was the most points the Thunder have trailed by the entire season.

Oklahoma City slowly crept back into the game in the third quarter behind Westbrook’s offensive wizardry and overall team defense. The shots the Nets had been getting in the first half were taken away completely by swarming Oklahoma City defenders.

The Thunder held the Nets to 15 points in the third quarter and trailed by only four heading into the fourth quarter.

“I knew we were going to battle back,” Brooks said. “We’ve always done that. That’s our DNA — we’re going to always fight back to the last possession. But they were much better than us tonight.”

Michael KinneyFollow me @eyeamtruthmkinney@normantranscript.com

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