Kevin Durant extended his remarkable scoring record with his 28th consecutive 20-point game as the Oklahoma City Thunder rolled past the Denver Nuggets 110-104.
Durant, who finished with 30 points, 12 rebounds and four assists, has now scored 20 points or more in every game since returning from a hamstring injury in late November.
Russell Westbrook also played a starring role with 27 points as the Thunder improved to 31-12, the third best record in the Western Conference behind Golden State and San Antonio.
Westbrook also had 12 assists but fell just short of his third straight triple-double. He has already notched up five this season, 24 in his career.
Denver’s loss saw the Nuggets fall to 16-26 for the season.
Elsewhere Tuesday the Milwaukee Bucks maintained their recent run of good form against the Miami Heat with a 91-79 defeat of the Florida team.
Small forward Khris Middleton did the damage for the Bucks, scoring 22 points while center Greg Monroe contributed 15 points and 10 rebounds.
It was Miami’s second consecutive defeat and came despite impressive scoring cameos from Hassan Whiteside and Chris Bosh, who both added 23 points apiece.
Heat guard Dwyane Wade had an unhappy night, finishing with just two points on 1-of-6 shooting and looking to still be suffering from a sore shoulder.
Milwaukee opened up a 49-39 halftime lead before a third quarter points spree saw them stretch away to a 75-57 cushion.
TUTOR GETS SCHOOLED
The irony of Middleton’s performance was not lost on Wade, who spent much of the summer tutoring the Miami youngster.
Bucks caretaker coach Joe Prunty praised Middleton’s multi-faceted performance.
“Khris is able to impact the game in several ways,” Bucks interim coach Joe Prunty said. “He is able to score and create shots for others, making passes out of the double team.”
Middleton meanwhile attributed his performance to the strength of the Bucks defense, which restricted Miami to 36.5 percent shooting from the floor.
“We challenged every shot,” Middleton said. “We tried to make it difficult on them. Once we did that, we were dangerous on the other end.”
The New Orleans Pelicans meanwhile fought back from a 17-point deficit before defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves 114-99 in the Big Easy.
Anthony Davis finished with 35 points as the Pelicans recovered to win a stormy encounter which saw Minnesota forward Kevin Garnett clash with New Orleans forward Ryan Anderson late in the first half.
Davis praised the way New Orleans had refused to be intimidated by Minnesota’s physicality, saying the team had been fired up following the clash between Garnett and Anderson.
“That’s what we’ve got to do—we’ve got to be a physical team,” said Davis.
“That says a lot about Ryan,” Davis said referring to the incident with Garnett. “He’s a tough guy. We know how K.G. is. It’s good because it kind of got us going. We just wanted to make sure we’re tough and fight back. We just can’t get pushed around. If we’re pushed, we’ll fight back without doing anything stupid. Just make our presence felt.”
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