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News » Thunder outlasts Kings

Thunder outlasts Kings

Thunder outlasts Kings
There's a buzz around town about how much the Thunder has improved, excitement about the team's future.

For good reason.

Sparked by 39 points from Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City won a 116-113 shootout over Sacramento on Sunday night at the Ford Center.

With the win, the Thunder is one of only 15 NBA teams to play above .500 Basketball the past six weeks.

"I like the improvement," coach Scott Brooks said. "But what I'll focus on is we have to keep getting better. By no means are we there. We're still going to have some tough stretches. We have to challenge ourselves to play well every game. That's hard to do."

The Thunder is reminded of that fact every game.

Oklahoma City built a 19-point lead against the slumping Kings, but Sacramento battled back to take the lead. Unlike games earlier this season, the Thunder withstood the Kings' late-game, 3-point barrage to record a rare close win.

"We've gotten better," Durant said. "It feels good to win some of these games. But we still have a long ways to go. We're working every day to get better. That's the best thing. We come in and work hard no matter what our record is."

The Thunder had trouble closing the door but is 10-9 since New Year's Eve.

"I told them during a timeout, 'This is when we need to get better, when we can say, we're going to get a stop right now and we get one,' " Brooks said. "But first we must become a good defensive team."

Leading 115-113, Oklahoma City struggled in the waning seconds. Durant missed a 15-footer with 15 seconds left. Nick Collison grabbed the rebound but missed both free throws. After Francisco Garcia missed a 3-pointer, Jeff Green made only one of two free throws with .3 of a second left.

The game ended in bizarre fashion. Sacramento was hoping for a miracle but never got a shot. Collison harassed the inbounds pass, forcing Kevin Martin to call a timeout, a timeout the Kings did not have.

It resulted in a technical foul. Durant missed the free throw, but it didn't matter. Oklahoma City now owned possession.

"I see some maturity developing, but we're still a young team," Brooks said. "We have guys that will get better for the next seven or eight years. And our veterans will get better for the next four or five years. We just need that every-day mentality of getting better these next 31 games."

Most of the Thunder's success has come at home. Oklahoma City is 5-2 in the Ford Center the past three weeks, 7-4 at home the past six weeks.

The next step is improving on a 3-20 road record. Six of the next eight games are away from home, including road trips against the Lakers, Trail Blazers, Suns and Mavericks.

"This will be a good test for us," Green said. "We're playing some great teams. It's different when our crowd is not there. It's a matter of stepping our game up a little more and step up on defense."

Records since Dec. 31

Team W-L Pct.

LA Lakers... 16-4 .800 San Antonio... 14-4 .778 Denver... 14-4 .778 Orlando... 14-5 .737 Cleveland... 13-5 .722 Boston... 14-6 .700 Philadelphia... 13-6 .684 Dallas... 11-7 .611 Portland... 11-7 .611 Houston... 11-8 .579 Minnesota... 11-8 .579 New Orleans... 11-9 .550 Oklahoma City... 10-9 .526 Utah... 10-9 .526 Phoenix... 10-9 .526

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: February 12, 2009


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