CHARLOTTE: NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant had game highs of 34 points and 12 rebounds to give Oklahoma City an 89-85 victory on Friday (Saturday in Manila) at Charlotte in the Thunder’s first game without injured Russell Westbrook.
Swiss guard Thabo Sefolosha and Spanish forward Serge Ibaka each added 12 points while Kendrick Perkins contributed 10 rebounds as the Thunder improved to 24-5, matching Portland for the best record in the NBA.
Oklahoma City will host Portland on Tuesday.
Reggie Jackson had 10 points on 4-of-19 shooting in his first game starting for the Thunder since the team announced that star playmaker Westbrook would be sidelined until at least mid-February following arthroscopic right knee surgery conducted on Friday.
Kemba Walker’s layup 14.8 seconds pulled the Bobcats within 86-85 but Jackson hit 1-of-2 free throws with 10.7 seconds remaining to lift the Thunder lead to 87-85.
Charlotte’s Josh McRoberts missed a 3-point attempt Sefolosha hit two final free throws with 3.5 second to play to seal Oklahoma city’s triumph.
Over 25 games this season, Westbrook has averaged 21.3 points, six rebounds and a team-high seven assists for Oklahoma City. But he figures to miss 27 games as a result of his third procedure on the right knee this year.