SEATTLE – Kevin Durant scored 22 of his career-high 35 points in the second half, and the Seattle SuperSonics beat the Indiana Pacers 95-93 on Friday night to become the final NBA team to win a home game this season.
Seattle was 0-7 at home and had lost 11 straight home games dating to last season. But Durant showed off the skills that made him the No. 2 overall pick in the closing minutes to help Seattle (3-14) snap a six-game skid and avoid the worst 17-game start in franchise history.
The 1967-68 Sonics started 2-14 as well, before winning their 17th game.
Durant made 12 of 20 shots and added five rebounds and three blocks. Fellow rookie Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox each added 12 points. Kurt Thomas grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds.
Durant’s only blemish was going 8 of 12 at the free-throw line. He made both attempts with 20.6 seconds left, though, to give Seattle a 92-88 lead.
Jamaal Tinsley scored on a baseline runner at the other end and Durant split his next two attempts to give Seattle a 93-90 lead with 12.6 seconds left.
Tinsley had a good look at a tying 3-pointer with 5 seconds left, but it hit the rim and Durant grabbed the rebound. He then hit both free-throw attempts to clinch the victory.
Danny Granger led Indiana with 21 points, but made just 4 of 18 shots, including a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer. Mike Dunleavy added 14 and Shawne Williams scored 13. Indiana lost for just the second time in its last six games.
Jermaine O’Neal returned to the Pacers’ lineup after missing the previous five games with soreness in his left knee. He struggled early, missing his first three shots, before connecting on three of his next four attempts. He finished with 14 points and made 6 of 15 shots.
But O’Neal sat for the final 2:19 of the game, having his right arm examined by trainers as the final minutes played out. After the game, O’Neal said he had a stinger to his right shoulder, suffered when he set a screen for Dunleavy.
Late in the third quarter Durant electrified the crowd, swooping across the lane to block Williams’ shot. He then hit the final two baskets of the period, the first on a crossover 18-footer, then spinning on Granger and swishing a 15-footer to give Seattle a 70-65 lead.
Indiana chipped away, pulling even at 77-all on Dunleavy’s fastbreak dunk with 6:18 left.
Seattle then scored the next six points, capped by Durant’s 3-pointer in front of the Pacers bench for a 83-77 lead with 4:44 left.
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