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Thunder catch Hornets

By Jeff Latzke

Associated Press


OKLAHOMA CITY >> Kevin Durant doesn't mind taking a back seat when Russell Westbrook is taking over a game in crunch time.

Westbrook scored 12 of his 25 points during a decisive 14-0 run late in the fourth quarter and also had 11 assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied to beat the New Orleans Hornets 95-89 last night.

"This is the new Russell," Durant said. "He's just taking over games and controlling the games. That's what we need for us to win."

Westbrook scored six in a row to tie the game, then kept going with a driving layup and a 3-pointer that put the Thunder up 88-81 with 1:38 to play. After the 3-pointer, he mocked slamming guns down into holsters at his side.

"Sometimes when my teammates are down and not making shots, it's an opportunity for me to be able to step up and help us win the game," Westbrook said.

Westbrook has been the go-to guy down the stretch for Oklahoma City recently with Durant and Jeff Green struggling to knock down shots consistently. Over the past three games, Durant and Green are a combined 37-for-109 (34 percent) from the field.

Durant finished with 26 points, but 12 came from the free-throw line -- including four in the final minute that helped clinch it. His biggest contribution in the decisive stretch was slowing down David West, who led New Orleans with 20 points but missed six straight shots as Oklahoma City pulled ahead.

"This game is all about wins. As a leader, you've got to do whatever it takes to win. I think that I did that tonight," Durant said. "That's a part of my growth as a player."

Chris Paul scored 17 points with 14 assists and five steals as the Hornets lost for the fourth time in five games after an 11-1 start.

"I thought we competed our tails off tonight on the road in a tough back to back," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. "The ball didn't go down. It happens in this league. If you hold a team like that to 95 points, you give yourself a chance."

Westbrook missed 10 of his first 15 shots and committed eight turnovers, but did away with all those struggles in his final flurry. He made his final four attempts and didn't turn the ball over in the final 6 minutes as Oklahoma City wiped away an 81-75 deficit.

"He's an All-Star. He probably won't get the votes, unless somebody puts him in the game," Williams said. "That guy is playing at a level that you scout for him for about 10 or 15 minutes of your practice because his pick-and-roll, he's shooting the ball now, he gets to the free-throw line about 10 times a game.

"If you said that and just left the (identity) blank, you'd say that's an All-Star."

Heat 105, Wizards 94

LeBron James scored 30 points, Dwyane Wade added 26 and the Heat pulled away steadily to beat the visiting Wizards, keeping Washington winless away from home this season.

Chris Bosh finished with 20 for the Heat, who won for just the second time in their past six games.

Andray Blatche scored 26 points and had nine rebounds for Washington.

Mavericks 101, Rockets 91

Caron Butler scored 13 of his 19 points during a decisive third-quarter run, Dirk Nowitzki had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and the host Mavericks stretched their winning streak to six games with a victory over the Rockets.

Kevin Martin's 17 points and Luis Scola's 15 paced the Rockets, who've lost six of eight.

Jazz 109, Bucks 88

Al Jefferson had 22 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots to lead Utah to a victory over injury-depleted Milwaukee.

Deron Williams also scored 22 points for the Jazz, who have won six straight.

Brandon Jennings led the visiting Bucks with 27 points.

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