Durant bags 35 as Thunder down Cavaliers
Kevin Durant scored 35 points and Serge Ibaka had 16 as the Oklahoma City Thunder held off a furious Cleveland comeback for a 102-95 NBA win over the injury-riddled Cavaliers on Thursday.
The Thunder won their 50th game of the season to close in on San Antonio for the best record in the NBA’s Western Conference.
Durant missed five of his first six shots, but the league’s top scorer finally found his touch. He has scored 25 or more in 33 straight games – the NBA’s second-longest streak since Michael Jordan did it 40 consecutive times (1986-87).
Three teams jockeying for playoff position in the tight Western Conference also got victories.
The Houston Rockets, currently in fourth place, got 28 points from James Harden in a 129-106 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Turkish centre Omer Asik started in his place of injured Dwight Howard, who has an a strained left ankle, and scored 12 points as the Rockets won for the seventh time in 10 games to maintain a better record over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Portland also picked up a win on Thursday, defeating the Washington Wizards 116-103.
Wesley Matthews had 28 points and Damian Lillard added 23 points and 10 assists for the Blazers, who remained in fifth place with three victories in their last four games after a four-game losing streak.
Golden State recorded a tougher-than-expected 115-110 victory over the NBA-worst Milwaukee Bucks.
Stephen Curry had 31 points and 11 assists and Klay Thompson scored 29 as Golden State moved 18 games over .500 for the first time in 20 years.
The Warriors are in sixth place in the West ahead of Memphis and Dallas with 12 games left.