Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) drives past Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) during the first quarter at the United Center. Photo by David Banks, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.
CHICAGO - (UPDATED) Kevin Durant again flashed the hot hand for Oklahoma City as he tallied 35 points to power the Thunder to a 97-85 win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday.
The 35-year-old American has now scored at least 25 points in 32 consecutive games as he dipped into his bag of tricks to score on a range of different shots that stymied the Bulls' defence.
"He's playing at an MVP level this year and the last couple of years," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "But his consistency this year?
"November was special. December was special. January, super special. February, special."
Durant also had 12 rebounds and five assists as the Thunder dominated the final eight minutes in front of a crowd of 22,261 at the United Center arena.
The 2.06 metre (6ft 9in), 109 kilogram (240lbs) Durant shot 11-of-21 from the field in 42 minutes of playing time and was one of five Oklahoma City players to reach double figures in scoring.
"The second half, we didn't close to the line as hard as we needed to," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.
"Durant is going to do that to you and so will the pressure that (Russell) Westbrook puts on you. We obviously have to close harder and finish the defence better.
"Durant is tough to guard. You have to guard him with your team."
Durant's teammate Westbrook tallied 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Westbrook sat out Sunday's 23-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Serge Ibaka had 15 points and Caron Butler scored 12 for the Thunder, who have won six of their last eight National Basketball Association games.
Carlos Boozer finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls, who had their modest two-game win streak halted.
"Our transition game is predicated on getting stops. We did a good job making them miss a lot of shots," said Brooks.
The Bulls wore green jerseys in honour of St. Patrick's Day, but after a strong start to the fourth quarter their luck changed.
They began the fourth in a 74-67 hole but scored eight straight points following two Reggie Jackson free throws to pull within 76-75.
Oklahoma City went on a 16-1 surge, capped by Ibaka's dagger three-pointer with just over three minutes to play. That gave the Thunder a healthy 16-point advantage they did not relinquish.
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