By NBA.com staff reports
Posted Feb 25 2009 8:07AM
The Oklahoma City Thunder sit near the bottom of the Western Conference but compete like a team atop the standings with loads of confidence. During the first three quarters, it's possible to be fooled into thinking they are seeking a playoff spot in the West. Slowly but surely, though, the Thunder's matador defense and sparse offense in the fourth quarter reveal their youth and inexperience.
The Thunder kept up with the defending Western Conference champion Lakers for three quarters and even came within one point of the Lakers in the third.
Kevin Durant (32 points) hit a 3-pointer to conclude a 15-6 finish to the third quarter by the Thunder, who then scored the first six points of the final period to get within 75-74 on Nick Collison's left-handed layup.
But the gap widened in the fourth giving the Thunder a 107-93 loss at home. This leaves them with a 13-44 record right in front of the Sacramento Kings who are in last place in the West.
Kobe Bryant scored 10 of his 36 points in a 3-minute span of the fourth quarter. Bryant moved into 19th place on the NBA's career scoring list, moving ahead of Adrian Dantley only one game after he passed Elgin Baylor for 20th. Entering the game, he had needed only 13 points to tie Dantley.
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Cleveland 94, Memphis 79
Toronto 118, Minnesota 110
Miami 103, Detroit 91
Chicago 120, Orlando 102
L.A. Lakers 107, Oklahoma City 93
Houston 98, Portland 94
San Antonio 93, Dallas 76
Phoenix 112, Charlotte 102
• Dwyane Wade, Heat, scored 31 points and had a career-high 16 assists in Miami's 103-91 victory over Detroit.
• Tony Parker, Spurs, had 37 points and 12 assists with All-Star teammate Tim Duncan sitting out with a sore right knee, and short-handed San Antonio beat Dallas 93-76.
• Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani, Raptors, each scored 26 points as Toronto beat Minnesota for the 10th consecutive time, 118-100.
• Kobe Bryant, Lakers, scored 10 of his 36 points in a 3-minute span of the fourth quarter to thwart an Oklahoma City rally and lead Los Angeles to a 107-93 victory.
Chicago's three new players acquired at the trade deadline combined for 37 points Tuesday in their home debuts, leading the Bulls to a 120-102 victory over Orlando. Tim Thomas scored 17 points, John Salmons 11 and Brad Miller had nine points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Stephon Marbury's turbulent five-year tenure in New York is over after the point guard and the Knicks reached a buyout agreement. Marbury is eligible to sign with a playoff contender after he clears waivers and will be eligible to appear in the postseason. The former All-Star didn't play this season for new coach Mike D'Antoni and never led his hometown team to a single playoff victory.
Tim Duncan sat out San Antonio's 93-76 victory over Dallas with a sore right knee, his first missed game because of injury this season. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said afterward he didn't know the severity of Duncan's injury. He said Duncan would be evaluated by doctors Wednesday morning, putting his status for San Antonio's back-to-back against Portland later that night in doubt. Portland's Greg Oden will miss the game while recovering from his knee injury.
The Detroit Pistons dropped their seventh straight, their longest skid in more than seven years, with a 103-91 loss to Miami on Tuesday. The Pistons (27-28) fell under .500 this late in a season for the first time since 2000-01 and need to win in New Orleans on Wednesday to avoid matching the franchise's longest losing streak since 1995. ... Oklahoma City has lost six straight following its 107-93 loss to the Lakers. ... Memphis' skid was extended to five with a 94-79 loss to Cleveland.
The Houston Rockets have won eight straight home games and five straight overall, both season-best streaks, after a 98-94 victory over Portland on Tuesday. Luis Scola had 15 points and 11 rebounds for his fifth consecutive double-double.
The Boston Celtics signed forward Mikki Moore, waived by the Sacramento Kings last week. Moore, who spent part of the 2002-2003 season with the Celtics, has career averages of 5.9 points and 3.9 rebounds.
"Our whole thing is not on the offensive end. We can't stop anybody. The way we're playing we have to shoot 60 percent to win a basketball game. Everybody's always going to look at the offensive end and scoring points. We scored enough points to win the basketball game. But we just can't get stops consistently. We can't get stops when we need them." -- Allen Iverson, after Detroit dropped its seventh straight with a 103-91 loss to Miami.
Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace is within two points of 15,000 in his career.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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