THE FACTS: The Oklahoma City Thunder (18-4) rallied back from 11 points down and then held off the New Orleans Hornets (5-16) in the last seconds for a thrilling 92-88 win Wednesday night inside a sold out and roaring Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Kevin Durant scored 25 of his game-high 35 points in the second half to lead his team to the win, but it was seldom-used third team point guard Reggie Jackson who came off the Thunder bench late in the third quarter to really spark the team. Jackson had just five points, but he hit a big 3-pointer to change momentum and then played outstanding defense the entire time he was on the floor. Kevin Martin finished with 17 for the Thunder (12 in the second half) and Russell Westbrook added 14 points and nine assists.
The Hornets had four players (three rookies) in double figures and were led by rookie Brian Roberts who came off the bench and nailed four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points. Ryan Anderson had 14 but was just 2-for-7 on long balls, Austin Rivers added 12 and Anthony Davis pitched in with 11.
The Thunder have now won nine straight games while the Hornets have lost five in a row but, for most of the night, the visitors outplayed the home team. A big fourth quarter where the Thunder scored 34 points, almost as many as in the entire first half (36), was the difference in the game.
QUOTABLE: "We finally started making some shots and, you know, sometimes it just comes down to making a shot. But I thought the defense won the game for us tonight."
--Thunder coach Scott Brooks
QUOTABLE II: "I thought we competed tonight. I thought we brought an edge. Obviously, we lost the game but when we compete that way and keep our turnovers down, you give yourself a chance."
-- Hornets coach Monty Williams
THE STAT: In the first half, OKC shot just 30.6 percent. But in the fourth quarter, with the game on the line, the Thunder hit a sizzling 70.6 percent of their shots (12-for-17).
TURNING POINT: With the Thunder down by 11 (62-51) late in the third quarter, Brooks decided to go with a super-small lineup and brought Jackson off the bench to join Eric Maynor, Martin, Durant and Nick Collison. OKC went on an immediate 11-0 run with a Jackson 3-pointer to tie the game and bring the crowd back into it.
QUOTABLE III: "We just needed a change of scenery, something. I just thought we needed something different at that point. Reggie [Jackson] hit a big 3, but his defense was really outstanding. When we brought him in we moved Kevin [Durant] to the four and that was big because we got more offensive punch with that group."
-- Scott Brooks on putting Jackson in the game and going small
HOT: Anderson started the game 4-for-6 (10 points) in the first quarter and finished the first half with 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting. ... Durant was 5-for-8 (13 points) in the fourth quarter. ... Martin was 2-for-2 on 3-pointers in the fourth after going 0-for-3 in the first three quarters.
NOT: The Thunder missed their first six shots and finished the first quarter with 17 points (their fewest in a first quarter this season) on 7-for-22 shooting (31.8 percent). ... The Hornets weren't much better, scoring 19 points on 33.3 percent shooting (8-for-24). ... OKC finishes the first half with 36 points (fewest in a half this season) on 11-for-36 shooting (30.6 percent). ... Westbrook was 2-for-11 in the first half and Martin was 1-for-6. ... Davis was 1-for-5 for the Hornets in the first 24 minutes. ... New Orleans shot 39.8 percent for the game.
GOOD MOVE: In the last several games these teams have played, Westbrook has pretty much had his way going up against Vasquez. In the first quarter tonight, Westbrook did it again. He faked to his right, drove left, past Vasquez, into the lane and hammered home a tomahawk dunk.
BAD MOVE: Durant took as many shots in the first half as center Kendrick Perkins (four) and they each hit two. Never a good thing when those two take the same number of shots. Westbrook took almost three times as many (11) and he also hit two.
NOTABLE: Oklahoma City's nine game winning streak is the longest current streak in the NBA, and the ties the longest ever winning streak for the Thunder franchise in the Oklahoma City era.
UP NEXT: For the Hornets, Friday vs. Minnesota, Sunday @ Portland, Tuesday @ Golden State. For the Thunder, Friday vs. Sacramento, Monday vs. San Antonio, Wednesday @ Atlanta.