OKC scores first win in post-Durant era
BARCELONA, Spain — Oklahoma City won for the first time since the departure of star forward Kevin Durant by winning 92-89 at Barcelona on Wednesday (Thursday Manila time).
Forward Enes Kanter, who scored 24 points, 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.
It was the second game the Thunder has played since the departure of Durant this summer to Western Conference rival Golden State.
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 guard has made only two of 11 3-point attempts in his two matches with his new team.
“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 was without center Steven Adams, who injured his right ankle during Monday’s loss.His absence was noticed in the first half when center Ante Tomic scored 10 points.
Barcelona was led by former Portland forward Victor Claver, who scored a game-high 25 points.
Oklahoma City 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.”
Cleveland’s LeBron James contributed just 13 minutes as the NBA champions opened their exhibition season with a 117-102 victory over Orlando.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue intends to keep James’ playing time to a minimum during the preseason. The superstar scored seven points and had six assists. Lue also rested point guard Kyrie Irving and forward Tristan Thompson sat out with a foot injury.
Jeff Green scored 19 to pace the Magic in their second game under coach Frank Vogel.