Durant drops in 35 including five free throws in the final minute
Kevin Durant rescued the Oklahoma City Thunder from nearly turning a laugher into disaster.
League top gun Durant dropped in five of his 35 points on free throws in the final minute along with 11 rebounds and six assists on Thursday, and the visiting Thunder survived a late charge to beat the feisty undermanned Cleveland Cavaliers, 102-95 for their 50th win of the season.
“It was a good game offensively for us and defensively up until that last stretch in the fourth was really good,” said Durant, who has netted 25 or more points in 33 consecutive contests.
“It’s good that we won 50 games but we have bigger goals in mind.”
Serge Ibaka had 16 points and 11 boards, while Reggie Jackson scored 13 for the Thunder (50-18), who regrouped after nearly blowing a 24-point cushion to move within 1.5 games of idle San Antonio for the top spot in the West.
Despite giving All-Star guard Russell Westbrook the night off to rest his surgically-repaired knee, Oklahoma City led 95-71 with 6 minutes 18 seconds left but couldn’t put it away.
Instead, the Cavs minus injured stars Kyrie Irving and Luol Deng went on a 21-2 run capped by Dion Waiters’ dunk off a steal to pull within 97-92 with 1 minute 12 seconds remaining.
But Durant came to the rescue sinking four free throws around an Ibaka block of Waiters’ layup attempt to make it 101-92 with 37.6 ticks left.
Waiters buried a 3-pointer but Durant tossed in another from the stripe and the Thunder escaped with its fourth win in the last five outings.
Waiters netted a season-high tying 30 points, and Spencer Hawes added 20 in Cleveland’s third straight loss.DPA
I thought it was over but those guys have pride and Cleveland made it a game late.
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