April 10, 2012

Thunder break losing streak against Toronto Raptors


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks has preached to his players all season about successfully closing out quarters. The Thunder did that in the third quarter Sunday night and went on to snap a season-high three-game losing streak.

Kevin Durant scored 23 points and Oklahoma City had a 24-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters en route to a 91-75 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

"We talked about that yesterday . to finish strong in all quarters," Brooks said. "I didn't think we had a great finish in the second quarter but we did a good job in the second half. We look for that and we wanted to see some progress in that area and I thought the guys really locked in and focused on closing out the quarters."

James Harden scored 17 points and Russell Westbrook had 15 points, six assists and six rebounds for Oklahoma City, which remained percentage points behind San Antonio for first place in the Western Conference.

"I have a great group of guys that play hard and play together," Brooks said. "They care for each other. None of us like the fact that we lost three in a row but they never pointed a finger at each other. We were frustrated that we lost but we weren't frustrated at each other."

The Thunder never trailed but the game was close for three quarters. Toronto was down 58-55 with 6:05 left in the third quarter, but the Raptors didn't score again in the period. Oklahoma City then scored the last 12 points of the third quarter — with Daequan Cook's 3-pointer stretching the advantage to 70-55 in the final seconds of the period — and the first 12 of the fourth to take 27-point lead.

"Guys got into the lane, got to the free-throw line and made great passes and our defense was really good," Durant said. "Our defense always ignites our offense. We got stops and we turned them into points."

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