- The Washington Times - Friday, April 10, 2009

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Kevin Durant had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and the Thunder knocked the Charlotte Bobcats out of playoff contention with a 84-81 victory Friday night in the home finale of their first season in Oklahoma City.

Nenad Krstic added 19 points, Jeff Green had 10 points and 11 rebounds and Russell Westbrook had 10 points and 11 assists for the Thunder.

D.J. Augustin led the Bobcats with 20 points, including a 3-pointer with 35.6 seconds left that got Charlotte within 83-81. Green then swatted away a runner by Raymond Felton and Krstic corralled the rebound on the floor with 2.2 seconds left.

After Durant went 1-for-2 from the foul line, Vladimir Radmanovic had one last shot at the tie, but his whirling 3-pointer missed off the front rim.

Boris Diaw added 19 points, Felton scored 11 and Gerald Wallace had 10 points and 14 rebounds for Charlotte.

The Bobcats charged back from a 14-point second-half deficit and took the lead before succumbing to the Thunder down the stretch.

Diaw and Augustin combined to score 17 of Charlotte’s points during a 19-6 run that cut the deficit to 62-61 on Augustin’s 3-pointer with 20 seconds left in the third period.

Felton’s jumper from the left side capped a stretch of six straight Bobcats points and put Charlotte ahead 67-66 with 10:12 left, its first lead since it was 2-0. That was the first of six lead changes over the next 5 minutes.

Rookie D.J. White scored inside to put Oklahoma City up 72-71 with 5 1/2 minutes left, and Durant added a 3-pointer from the right wing before Shaun Livingston’s jumper on the left baseline. The Thunder protected that lead the rest of the way.

Charlotte, 12-26 on the road this season, would have needed a remarkable finish to earn its first playoff appearance. In part because of an equestrian event at Charlotte’s home arena that team owner Bob Johnson’s daughter will compete in, the Bobcats are the first team to finish the regular season with four straight road games since the Toronto Raptors 12 years ago.

The final three games of that stretch won’t matter nearly as much now, after the Bobcats shot just 33 percent and couldn’t capitalize on 24 Thunder turnovers, including a season-high nine by rookie Westbrook.

The Thunder emerged with a 48-37 lead at halftime despite committing 15 turnovers _ seven by Westbrook _ by shooting 55 percent in a first half filled with spurts. Oklahoma City led 56-42 after Kyle Weaver’s driving, left-handed layup early in the second half before Charlotte started its comeback.

Oklahoma City had an early burst of nine straight points and was up by eight before Charlotte responded with a 10-2 run to tie the game at 17. Oklahoma City then scored the final 10 points of the first quarter on its way to building a 39-25 lead.

Notes:@ Thunder F Nick Collison missed the game with a right thigh contusion he suffered in Oklahoma City’s last game against Denver. Oklahoma City also lost starting G Thabo Sefolosha to a dislocated left ring finger with 33.2 seconds left in the first half. … Gospel Music Hall of Famer Sandi Patty, an Oklahoma City native, sang the national anthem. … Oklahoma City had its eighth straight sellout and its 18th of the season. The Thunder went 3-15 in those games.

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