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SPORTS: Oklahoma City Thunder

Durant-Led Thunder Holds Off Bobcats

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina -

Life without Russell Westbrook is underway and things certainly didn't come easily on Friday night in Charlotte.

Josh McRobert's missed an uncontested 3-pointer with three seconds remaining and an immediate foul allowed Thabo Sefolosha to close the door from the foul line as Oklahoma City escaped with a hard-fought 89-85 victory against the Bobcats.

There will likely be many night's like this one in the next seven weeks as the Thunder awaits Westbrook's return from arthroscopic knee surgery – his third operation since late April – as the Thunder will have to out-work, out-execute and out-coach its way to victories that once appeared as virtual locks on the schedule.

Friday night at Time Warner Cable Arena certainly fit that bill.

OKC was held under the 100-point mark for just the sixth time this season, a sure sign of the adjustment period this team will undergo, but the Thunder responded by turning in a defensive gem of its own to keep a rapidly-improving Bobcat squad at bay.

The Thunder relied on its defense and a stellar outing from Kevin Durant to improve to 24-5 on the season and 11-4 on the road.

Durant got off to a slow start with just four points in the opening quarter but eventually hit his stride, leading all scorers with 34 points and 12 rebounds on 14-of-28 shooting with six assists.

KD saved his best for last with a 6-for-8 shooting performance in the fourth quarter for 14 points and routinely hit big shots that derailed Charlotte's comeback efforts.

The Thunder also received 12 points each from Serge Ibaka and Sefolosha, who helped spearhead a dominating defensive effort from Oklahoma City, which held the Bobcats (14-16) to 37.5 percent shooting and held Charlotte to just 36 first-half points.

Ibaka also recorded nine rebounds and three blocks on 6-of-8 shooting in the victory.

Reggie Jackson had a mostly forgettable shooting outing starting in place of the injured Westbrook, scoring 10 points on 4-of-19 shooting, but he managed the pace of the game well and committed zero turnovers in 30 minutes to go with six rebounds and three assists.

Jeremy Lamb led the charge off the bench with 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, while rookie center Steven Adams chipped in six points and three rebounds.

Kemba Walker led the Bobcats with 18 points, while center Al Jefferson added 16 points and 11 rebounds.

The Thunder is back in action on Sunday when it hosts James Harden, Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets at 6 p.m. in Chesapeake Energy Arena.

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