Durant, Westbrook lead Thunder past Pelicans
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kevin Durant scored 27 points, Russell Westbrook added 24 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans 116-94 on Friday night to clinch at least the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Serge Ibaka added 16 points, 10 rebounds and a season-high eight blocks for the Thunder, who won their third straight.
The Thunder shot 54 from the field, made 23 of 27 free throws and committed just 11 turnovers. Oklahoma City led by 25 points at the end of the third quarter, so Durant and Westbrook rested in the fourth.
Darius Miller scored a career-high 18 points and Austin Rivers had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Pelicans. New Orleans was without injured starters Anthony Davis (back) and Eric Gordon (left knee tendinitis).
The Thunder took advantage of New Orleans' depleted lineup by taking a 30-23 lead at the end of the first quarter. Oklahoma City's reserves helped the Thunder push the lead to 44-27.
New Orleans went on an 11-0 run before Derek Fisher scored for the Thunder. On Oklahoma City's next possession, Durant sent a nice pass to a running Ibaka, who dunked to put the Thunder up by 10. Durant's jumper with three seconds left in the first half put the Thunder up 60-47 at the break.
Westbrook scored 16 points in the first half on just 10 shots, while Durant and Ibaka added 12 points apiece.
Midway through the third quarter, Rivers got ahead of the pack for what looked like an easy basket. Ibaka caught up with him and pinned his shot on the glass, then Durant dunked on the other end to give the Thunder a 75-56 lead. Oklahoma City's largest lead in the fourth quarter was 34 points.
NOTES: Oklahoma City started its preferred lineup of Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha for just the 22nd time this season. Oklahoma City has played nine starting lineups. ... Durant was presented the Western Conference Player of the Month award for March before the game. He has won four out of five months. ... Rivers got his first start of the season, and New Orleans rookie F Jeff Withey got his second. ... New Orleans G Brian Roberts left the game with a left ankle injury and did not return. ... New Orleans G Tyreke Evans left the game with a right knee bone bruise and did not return. ... Perkins, Durant and Westbrook were issued technical fouls in the third quarter. Durant picked up his 15th of the season.
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