Buzzer-beater sends Pelicans past Thunder, 116-113

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Nick Collison looks to pass the ball as Pelican Ryan Anderson defends.
Thunder center Steven Adams battles Pelican Anthony Davis for a rebound. Adams finished with 10 points and six rebounds in the 116-113 loss.
Kevin Durant shoots over Omer Asik for two of his 27 points Friday night.
Russell Westbrook dribbles around a New Orleans defender. Westbrook scored a game-high 48 points while dishing out 11 assists. He also grabbed nine rebounds.
Reggie Jackson flips the ball toward the basket after being bumped by a Pelican defender.
Russell Westbrook tosses the ball toward a teammate while being guarded by two Pelican players.
Kevin Durant shoots over New Orleans defender Ryan Anderson.
Thunder players Andre Roberson, left, and Kendrick Perkins, right, try to grab the ball from New Orleans' player Eric Gordon during first-half action.

By Tim Farley

Overtime seemed inevitable Friday night after Russell Westbrook nailed three free throws with 1.2 seconds left to play, but Pelican sensation Anthony Davis had other ideas.

Davis, the league’s fourth leading scorer with a 24.5 average, hit a 30-foot desperation jumper at the buzzer to give the Pelicans a dramatic 116-113 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Davis finished with 41 points and 10 rebounds.

Oklahoma City (25-25) and New Orleans (27-23) were playing their second consecutive game against each other in the last two days. The Thunder defeated the Pelicans 102-91 on Wednesday after a fourth quarter rally. This time, however, it was New Orleans turn to finish on top thanks to Davis’ heroics.

The buzzer beater overshadowed a sensational performance from Westbrook who almost recorded another triple-double with 48 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds. Westbrook tallied 45 points against the Pelicans on Wednesday.

Westbrook joined Kobe Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain as the most recent players to have at least 45 points with five rebounds and five assists in consecutive games. Westbrook also became the first NBA player this season to have consecutive games of 40 points or more.

“He has the heart of a lion,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said of Westbrook. “He competes every possession. He takes the challenge of leading this team and when he’s on the floor he leads. He did another great performance tonight, but those are the things we’re accustom to with Russell. He has that competitive spirit every night and he doesn’t use anything as an excuse. He just plays with everything he has.”

The ending drama was exacerbated by missed free throws and two missed shots Kevin Durant in the final 10 seconds. After Oklahoma City’s Andre Roberson scored on a layup with 22 seconds left, Pelican guard Tyreke Evans missed two free throws with 17.8 ticks left on the clock. Then came the potential game winning shots that missed the mark.

Durant missed a 20-foot jump shot with 9.9 seconds left, and then missed a 6-foot floater with 3.9 seconds remaining. However, Quincy Pondexter fouled Westbrook on a three-point attempt with 1.2 seconds left. Westbrook swished all three, apparently sending the game into overtime.

Westbrook said he wasn’t nervous as took the three free throws.

“Just taking my time and taking them one at a time,” he said. “You can’t make three (at a time). My job is to go up there and make one at a time.”

Meanwhile Durant had an off shooting night, finishing with 27 points on nine of 26 shots, including three of 10 from behind the arc. Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams each added 10. No other Thunder player scored more than seven points.

Still, it might have been enough if not for a defensive breakdown late in the third quarter and into the early part of the fourth quarter. With the Thunder leading 76-64 midway in the third quarter, the Pelicans went on a 19-5 run to lead at the end of the quarter, 83-81. New Orleans scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to increase its lead to 88-81.

The Thunder slowly chipped away at the lead, finally tying the Pelicans at 98-98 on a bucket by Westbrook. However, Davis converted on a technical foul shot and New Orleans never trailed again.

The loss dropped Oklahoma City three games behind Phoenix, which holds the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference.

It looked like Oklahoma City might win its second straight against the Pelicans when Westbrook went off for 14 points and four assists in the first quarter with the Thunder holding a slim 33-29 lead. Durant scored nine of his 27 in the second quarter as Oklahoma City maintained a 56-53 lead at halftime.

The Thunder tallied 20 of its 25 third quarter points in six minutes while holding New Orleans to only nine during that same stretch.

The Thunder will host the Los Angeles Clippers in a rare noon tipoff on Sunday due to the ABC telecast.

GAME NOTES:  Oklahoma City shot 44 percent from the field while New Orleans shot 48.2 percent. The final shooting percentage was significantly different than the 65 percent the Thunder shot in the first quarter…The Thunder tallied more points in the paint (50-44), more second-chance points (14-11) and more fast break points (25-8)…New Orleans grabbed more rebounds, 45-40, but Oklahoma City had more steals and blocked shots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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