Thunder beat Kings 107-92 as Durant's streak ends
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Caron Butler made all six of his 3-point attempts to finish with 23 points, and the Oklahoma City Thunder started the fourth quarter on a 16-0 run to pull away for a 107-92 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.
Kevin Durant scored 23 points but was never needed in the final quarter, stopping his streak of scoring at least 25 points in 41 consecutive games. Serge Ibaka added 19 points and four rebounds for the Thunder, who rested Russell Westbrook ahead of Wednesday night's game at the Los Angeles Clippers.
Oklahoma City (56-21) is 1 1/2 games ahead of the Clippers (55-23) for the Western Conference's No. 2 playoff seed.
DeMarcus Cousins collected 24 points and 14 rebounds, and Travis Outlaw scored 24 points in Sacramento's third straight loss. Even with three regulars out with injuries, the Kings made the Thunder work through the first three quarters.
Oklahoma City built double-digits leads throughout the game only to watch Sacramento surge back each time.
But with Durant on the bench to open the fourth quarter, the Thunder finally built a lead that stuck. Oklahoma City held Sacramento scoreless for nearly 6 minutes while grabbing control for good.
Butler made his sixth 3-pointer and Jeremy Lamb connected twice from beyond the arc, helping the Thunder build a 101-77 lead that played a role in the end one of the NBA's most impressive scoring streaks.
Durant had just surpassed Michael Jordan's 40-game streak of scoring at least 25 points. Only Oscar Robertson (46 straight games in 1963-64) and Wilt Chamberlain (all 80 regular-season games in the 1961-62 season) have done longer runs.
Coming off losses at Memphis and Phoenix, Oklahoma City has plenty of bigger things to play for during the season's final two weeks.
The Thunder's once commanding lead over the Clippers for the second seed in the West has almost evaporated. They are 13-9 since the All-Star break, allowing San Antonio to run away with the top seed and the Clippers to close within striking distance.
With the matchup in Los Angeles looming large, Thunder coach Scott Brooks rested Westbrook - as he has done during done during one game of back-to-back sets since Westbrook returned Feb. 20 following right knee surgery. Westbrook is expected to start against the Clippers on Wednesday night.
The Thunder got some relief with Thabo Sefolosha playing for the first time since injuring his left calf against Memphis on Feb. 28. He finished with two points and three rebounds in 16 minutes.
Sacramento, already among the conference's worst teams, played even more short-handed. Kings big man Reggie Evans and forward Rudy Gay sat out with back injuries, and point guard Isaiah Thomas missed his eighth straight game with a bruised right quadriceps.
Oklahoma City looked every bit like the better and deeper team at the start. The Thunder surged ahead 9-0 in the first two minutes before Cousins brought the Kings back with his perimeter shot, slicing Oklahoma City's lead to 30-27 at the end of the first quarter.
The Thunder began to pull away again with a 17-4 run in the second quarter propelled by Butler, who made all four of his 3-point attempts in the first half. Oklahoma City led 61-49 at intermission.
The Kings came back again behind Cousins in the third quarter. Sacramento pulled within two before the Thunder began rolling again to head to the fourth quarter ahead 85-77.
NOTES: The Thunder swept the four-game season series against the Kings. ... Oklahoma City has won 10 straight and 16 of 17 over Sacramento. ... A fan made a shot from half court during a timeout in the first half to win a car. ... The Kings recalled F Willie Reed from the Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development League.