Durant inspires late Thunder rally past Magic

by Mike Mouat, Reuters

Posted at Mar 02 2012 02:19 PM | Updated as of Mar 03 2012 12:21 AM

(1st UPDATE) Kevin Durant led the league-leading Thunder to a seventh consecutive victory as Oklahoma City used an explosive fourth-quarter charge to rally for a 105-102 road victory over the Orlando Magic on Thursday.

Durant scored 18 of his game-high 38 points in the final quarter at the Amway Center to help the Thunder (29-7) overcome a 14-point deficit.

"I was so down on myself, I was going downhill fast after the first quarter but my coaches and my team mates continued to talk to me and encourage me," Durant told reporters.

"They told me they believed in me. It just clicked for me. I always feel like I have to be aggressive in the fourth. I guess that is my time no matter how I am playing."

The forward sank two free throws with four minutes remaining to give the Thunder their first lead since the opening quarter (90-89) and then added 10 more points to protect the advantage.

The most damaging basket by Durant was a desperation heave as the shot clock expired to give the Thunder a 101-96 lead with less than a minute to play.

"That was a prayer," Durant said. "I threw that one up. God was on my side on that one and I made a decent shot."

The Thunder outscored the Magic 35-21 in the final quarter.

"Our fourth-quarter defense was pathetic," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I give them credit for what they did, and they're hard to stop. But it shouldn't be every possession."

The Magic (23-14) used a 21-10 run to extend a 53-50 halftime lead into a 14-point cushion in the third quarter, led by Dwight Howard, who finished the game with 33 points and nine rebounds.

Russell Westbrook added 29 points for the Thunder and had 10 assists, while James Harden scored 13 points off the bench.