Thunder 105, Pistons 94
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Serge Ibaka scored a career-high 25 points, Kevin Durant chipped in a season-high 25 points and 13 rebounds, and the Oklahoma City Thunder broke in their new alternate jerseys by beating the winless Detroit Pistons 105-94 on Friday night.
The Thunder scored nine straight points soon after Durant checked back into the game midway through the fourth quarter, stretching their lead to 93-77 after the three-time NBA scoring champion hit two free throws with 5:47 to play.
Detroit never got closer than nine after that, falling to 0-6 on the season – one loss shy of matching the worst starts in franchise history in 1962 and 1980.
First-round draft pick Andre Drummond led the Pistons with a career-high 22 points – 15 more than he had in any of his first five games. Tayshaun Prince contributed 16 points and Rodney Stuckey scored 15.
The Pistons fell behind by 14 early in the second half but rallied back late in the third quarter by going to a lineup pairing Greg Monroe with Drummond, the ninth overall pick in this year’s draft.
Coach Lawrence Frank said before the game that Detroit had been hesitant to use the two big men together because “you don’t take away one of your main cogs and put him in a position of weakness there” but that the Pistons would probably try out the lineup eventually.
The debut was an immediate success, with Monroe setting up Drummond for easy baskets on back-to-back possessions to start a 9-0 run. After Prince’s 3-pointer, Monroe finished it off with a two-handed slam to get Detroit within 72-69 with 30 seconds left in the third.
The Pistons couldn’t sustain it, though, as Oklahoma City inched away with Durant on the bench. He returned just before Drummond hit a free throw, and the Thunder scored the next nine points after that to take control for good.
Kevin Martin added 16 points off the bench and Eric Maynor had 13, even getting a late call at the end of the game to replace struggling All-Star Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook ended up with 10 points and six assists but continued to struggle with his shot. He is 20 for 62 (32 percent) in his last four games, the last three being Oklahoma City wins.
Monroe followed his first career triple-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
A year after trailing by 32 in the first half of a blowout in their only visit to Oklahoma City, the Pistons were able to keep it close by limiting Durant and Westbrook to slow starts.
Westbrook missed his first six shots and didn’t score until converting a putback with 4:38 left before halftime during an 8-0 run that finally gave the Thunder a little bit of a cushion. Kendrick Perkins pushed the advantage to 44-35 after getting the ball, isolated on the left wing with 5 seconds left on the shot clock, and driving for a layup.
Oklahoma City then started the second half on a 12-5 run, with Perkins’ bucket off an offensive rebound making it 61-47.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)