NEW ORLEANS — The Oklahoma City Thunder had lost their previous game at home to the hot Memphis Grizzlies. On Friday night at New Orleans Arena, they took it out on the Hornets, winning 110-95.
The Thunder jumped on the Hornets early and didn’t let up until coach Scott Brooks emptied his bench.
Oklahoma City (7-3), the defending Western Conference champion, shot 54.2 percent and made 14 3-pointers. It was the second consecutive game in which 100 points were scored against the Hornets (3-4), who have lost three of four.
Unlike Wednesday’s game at Houston, this one was never close.
“They are a really good team, and you can’t think you can show up and play a team like that and not play with supreme effort,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “We don’t have a go-to guy, and we have to play with supreme effort every possession. Tonight, they just kicked our butts.”
Kevin Durant, who was second in MVP voting last season, scored 27 points. He got Oklahoma City started, scoring six points and assisting on a basket as the Thunder took an 11-2 lead and never looked back.
“We have to start the game off better when we’re on the road,” he said. “Whether it was scoring, rebounding or getting an assist, I was just trying to inspire my team by my hard work and playing with a good intensity level.”
Taking advantage of opportunities created by Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook, backup shooting guard Kevin Martin also scored 27 points. Westbrook scored just 10, but he had 12 assists.
Durant said Westbrook dominated with his quick drives and defense. It was the fourth time this season Westbrook has had at least 10 assists, matching his total for all of last season.
“We were focused,” Westbrook said. “We take it personal when it comes to losing two games in a row.”
The game was the first of a back-to-back for the Hornets, who play at Milwaukee tonight. The Hornets were led by forward Ryan Anderson, who scored 15 points off the bench, including 3-of-3 on 3-pointers.
The Hornets fell into a deep hole, trailing 36-18 by the end of the first quarter.
After Durant had gotten Oklahoma City started, the Hornets tried to fight back, getting to 13-6 when Al-Farouq Aminu dunked after retrieving a loose ball. However, the pace and the deficit seemed to make them play erratically, and they blew a few chances to get closer.
That was before Martin began his demoralizing act. Obtained in the trade the sent James Harden to Houston, Martin started getting loose at the 3:30 mark when he scored a three-point play on a back-door layup and foul to push the lead to 22-10. He sank back-to-back 3-pointers in the final minute to give the Thunder a 20-point bulge.
He didn’t cool in the second quarter. Getting open shots because the Hornets’ efforts were focused on trying to stop Durant and Westbrook, Martin made three more 3s during a four-minute span starting at the 9:40 mark, and the lead swelled to 53-27 at 5:35. He finished with 22 first-half points.
Meanwhile, Durant scored 18, and the score was 66-37 at halftime.
With 7.1 seconds left in the half, Westbrook was fouled by Vasquez and took exception. After the first-half horn, the teams clashed, and Westbrook and Vasquez were assessed technical fouls.
That was as close as the Hornets came to going toe-to-toe with the Thunder.
“I think it was a misunderstanding,” Westbrook said. “I didn’t say anything to him, and he didn’t say anything to me.”
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved