- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 5, 2016

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - Forward Enes Kanter scored 24 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat Barcelona 92-89 on Wednesday for their first win after the departure of star forward Kevin Durant.

Kanter drove for a lay-up with a minute to play to put the Thunder ahead for good to conclude their preseason trip to Spain on a high note after Monday’s loss at Real Madrid.

Just like against Madrid, Thunder coach Billy Donovan limited point guard Russell Westbrook to the first and third quarters. He finished with 12 points and five assists in 21 minutes.

New backcourt partner Victor Oladipo added 10 points, but again struggled from behind the 3-point arc. The former Orlando Magic guard has made two of 11 3-point attempts in his two matches with his new team.

While Oladipo can’t come close to matching Durant’s shooting touch, Westbrook highlighted the other qualities that Oladipo brings.

“He brings athleticism, his speed. Defensively he can do big things,” Westbrook said. “It is doing to be a learning process for both of us, but we will figure it out.”

The Thunder were without center Steven Adams, who injured his right ankle during Monday’s 142-137 overtime loss at Madrid. His absence was noticed in the first half when center Ante Tomic scored 10 points.

“Obviously with Russell we are not going to play him a lot of minutes, and Steven Adams is hurt, so it gave our new guys a chance to play,” Donovan said. “I think from Monday to today we have gotten better as a team. It was a great experience to work with new faces and new pieces. I think it was very beneficial.”

Barcelona was led by former Portland Trailblazer forward Victor Claver, who scored a game-high 25 points.

Westbrook thrilled the Catalan crowd with a flying dunk late in the first quarter before taking to the bench until halftime.

Without their on-court leader, the Thunder fell nine points behind before rookie Domantas Sabonis capped a rally with a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to two points (47-45) entering the third quarter.

Alex Abrines, who joined the Thunder from Barcelona this offseason, also scored six points late in the final period to help put Kanter in position to get the win.

After Claver hit a 3-pointer to put the hosts up by three points, Kanter scored game’s last six points with a jumper, the go-ahead lay-up, and a pair of free throws.

“I am happy the game worked out like it did because our guys got some good experience,” Donovan said. “It forces them to gain some mental toughness. It put them in crucial situations down the stretch.”

It was the second game the Thunder have played since the departure of Durant this summer to Western Conference rival the Golden State Warriors.

The Thunder heads back to the U.S. for four more preseason games, this time against NBA opponents Dallas, Memphis, Minnesota and Denver, before opening the season at the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 26.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide