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Big Second Half Helps Thunder Sting Hornets | December
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It took a big second half from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but the Oklahoma City Thunder were able to mount another comeback on the road to defeat the New Orleans Hornets, 97-92.

The Thunder improved their road record to 9-4 on the season, on their way to upping their mark to 16-8 on the season. The Hornets are going in the opposite direction, although last night they suffered just their third home loss of the year.

 Durant helped lead a furious comeback in the third quarter on his way to dishing out a season high 6 assists for the second straight game. His shooting was a little bit off again from the field, but his playmaking skills continue to improve. He scored 25 points, which is slightly below his average, but added 5 rebounds and 2 blocks while turning the ball over just twice.

Westbrook also had a big night in proving that he and Durant may be the best 1-2 punch in the entire league. He scored a game high 29 points and added 10 assists. The only knock on his game last night was his 7 turnovers. But when you become more aggressive on the offensive end of the floor, that will happen from time to time.

This marked the first time this month that the Thunder did not alternate wins and losses. They are on a modest two game winning streak with their next game coming on Sunday at home against perhaps the worst team in the NBA - the Cleveland Cavaliers. It should be a nice opportunity for a third consecutive win, even if the game is at home where the Thunder have a worse record than on the road. That will have to improve as the season progresses if the Thunder hope to be able to host a first round series in the playoffs.

Oklahoma City has continued to win with defense and free throws, after Scott Brooks sent his message to a few of his starters last weekend. Play hard on both ends or watch the game from the bench. They have certainly heeded his advice. As usual, however, it generally takes them a quarter or so to figure things out defensively. They allowed the Hornets to score 32 points in the opening quarter, but gave up just 33 points in the entire second half, highlighted by just 12 points in the third quarter when the Thunder were able to pull ahead. They also connected on 23 of 26 free throws and remain well on their way to setting an NBA record for best team free throw percentage for an entire season.

It is becoming a pattern for the Thunder to trail early on and mount a second half comeback led by their tenacious defense and solid free throw shooting. They are now 12-1 this season in games decided by seven points or less. But this team is winning because it has been a complete team effort. Durant and Westbrook may get most of the hype from the media, but anyone who follows this team knows that they are all capable of having big nights. Last night, Serge Ibaka had 18 points and 9 rebounds to go along with 3 more blocks, while Jeff Green added 13 points and 8 rebounds.

But last night's game proved how important it is for this team to have their starters on the floor. While that is all well and good, they will simply need better numbers from their bench. This is a stat that many people ignore, but when the starters were in the game last night, they combined for a +43 in net points. The bench players, which consisted of just Nick Colison, D.J. White, Eric Maynor and James Harden, finished the game with a -18 with just 10 points.

But hey, it's only December. I'll let it slide for now. 

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