Durant sparks Thunder past Wizards 110-98, Oklahoma City wins fourth straight

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Kevin Durant may not be satisfied with his play, but his hot scoring has the surprising Oklahoma City Thunder playing their best basketball in years.
Durant had 35 points and 11 rebounds, Jeff Green added 18 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Washington Wizards 110-98 Tuesday night for the franchise's first four-game winning streak in 31/2 years.
It was the fifth straight game that Durant, who had 40 points in Monday's win at New Jersey, topped the 30-point mark. He has exceeded 30 points nine times in Oklahoma City's 14 December games.
Despite the lofty numbers, he downplayed his contributions after the game.
"I could be more aggressive, I think," Durant said. "I missed some shots I should have made. I wasn't disciplined in following through."
Elsewhere in the NBA it was: Cleveland 95 Atlanta 84; New York 104 Detroit 87; Houston 108 New Orleans 100; Chicago 104 Indiana 95; San Antonio 117 Minnesota 99; and Los Angeles Lakers 124 Golden State 118.
At Washington, Flip Saunders indicated that changes may be coming for the struggling Wizards.
"This team needs a mindset change," the Wizards' coach said after Washington's third straight loss. "This team, the last five years, has been known as one of the worst defensive teams. ... We couldn't stop anybody out there."
Added Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas, who scored 24 points: "Right now, we stink - and we're showing it. You can sit here and talk about it every day, every game, every loss. But until we can turn it around, we stink."
Saunders wouldn't commit to specific adjustments, but said everything will be considered.
"Spots will be open. If guys don't like it, that's fine but that's the way it's going to be," he said. "I'm not going to sit there, stand there and look at that any more. You evaluate for 30 games where you're at. Right now, where it's going, it ain't getting done."
In the middle of the Wizards' misery were two players familiar to local fans. Durant was born in Washington, and grew up and played his high school ball at high schools Virginia and suburban Maryland. Green played three years at Georgetown.
Green denied playing any harder with family and friends in attendance, but said the homecoming was made sweeter by the victory.
"I feel good because we're winning. we're playing good. we're on a roll - especially to play good in front of your family. They probably only get to see you play live maybe once a year," he said.
The Thunder, which last won four straight from April 2-6, 2006, when they were the Seattle SuperSonics, earned their ninth road victory of the season - one more than they had during 2008-09, their first season in Oklahoma City.
"We're playing pretty decent right now. We can't get complacent," Durant said. "We know in the back of our heads it's our first four-game winning streak in a couple of years. We're excited about that, but we have to work hard every day."
Saunders had a different take on the Thunder's resurgence.
"That team is playing a lot better, but that's not the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Los Angeles Lakers or those teams yet. ... Until our guys decide that it hurts when teams score on you, we've got no chance. We're kidding ourselves," Saunders said.
The score was tied five times in the fourth quarter before the Thunder went on a decisive 14-2 run that began when a layup by Eric Maynor that erased the 90-89 lead. Washington had gone up on a right-side three-pointer by Gilbert Arenas.
Saunders was most upset by his team's inability to play effective man-to-man defence in the second half, and counted 46 uncontested shots allowed. The Wizards used a zone to stay close in the middle two periods, but Thunder players blew by Washington defenders down the stretch.
Oklahoma City hit 13-of-18 shots (72 per cent) from the field in the fourth quarter.
"Guys want to come out of the zone and play man-to-man, but they can't guard anybody. I can go out there on that floor and take anybody on our team on one-on-one at 52 years old and drive right around them," Saunders said. "We've got to wake up. As I told them: Don't think it can't get any worse, because it can. There's no question it can. We've got to have a sense of urgency."
Antawn Jamison scored 28 points for the Wizards, who have three skids of three or more games this season.
Russell Westbrook and James Harden scored 11 apiece for the Thunder. Westbrook had 10 assists.
Arenas tallied the first nine points as Washington closed the first half on a 23-11 run for a 55-53 halftime lead.
Durant followed up a 14-point first quarter with the Thunder's final nine of the first half, including a buzzer-beating windmill slam.
Cavaliers 95 Hawks 84
At Atlanta, Cleveland held the Hawks scoreless for almost nine minutes to open the fourth quarter and scored the first 10 points of the period to break open a close game.
Knicks 104 Pistons 87
At Auburn Hills, Mich., David Lee had a season-high 30 points and 12 rebounds, and New York handed Detroit its eighth straight loss.
Rockets 108 Hornets 100
At Houston, Aaron Brooks scored 27 points, Luis Scola added 13 points and 12 rebounds and the Rockets overcame Chris Paul's triple-double and David West's career game in a win over the Hornets.
Bulls 104 Pacers 95
At Chicago, Derrick Rose scored 28 points and the Bulls blew an early 19-point lead before recovering in the second half to beat Indiana.
Spurs 117 Timberwolves 99
At San Antonio, Richard Jefferson scored 24 points, leading the Spurs to a victory over Minnesota.
Lakers 124 Warriors 118
At Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant had a season-high 44 points and 11 assists while making all 16 of his free throws, and the Lakers survived Golden State's 55-per cent shooting.

Organizations: Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers, Seattle SuperSonics Cleveland Cavaliers Hornets

Geographic location: Oklahoma City, Washington, New Jersey Virginia Maryland Georgetown Atlanta Cleveland Auburn Hills New York Detroit Houston Chicago Indiana San Antonio Minnesota Los Angeles Golden

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