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Nick Collison seals win at line |
As he strolled to the free-throw line, Nick Collison stared up at the scoreboard, trying his best to think about not thinking. With his team trailing by one with 4.5 seconds remaining, Collison used every mind trick in his might to forget the Thunder’s season-worst shooting at the stripe. Oklahoma City, the league’s best foul shooting team at 80.1 percent, had made 12 of 26 attempts when Collison stepped to the line. Collison had missed three of his first four by the time he had a chance to decide the team’s fate. Collison launched the first attempt, rolling it around every inch of the rim before it fell through. Tie game. "It was definitely a relief when it went in," Collison said. - The Game Happens Here
Thunder star Kevin Durant led all scorers with 31 points, his sixth straight game of more than 30 points, tying a 37-year-old franchise record set by Spencer Haywood in January 1972. "I had no clue I tied Spencer Haywood's record," Durant said, "that's a great honor. My teammates did a great job of finding me. It really feels good tonight it's a big step up." The victory is the fifth straight for Oklahoma City and the Thunder did it despite a pathetic night from the free throw line (they were 14-for-28) and with a discombobulated offense (19 turnovers). "We're a good free throw shooting team but for whatever reason we didn't hit them tonight," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "It was sure nice to see Nick hit those two at the end." "Turnovers and missed free throws don't mean anything as long as you win the game, but we just have to get back to work tomorrow and keep trying to get better," Durant said.

Thunder notebook: Kevin Durant fifth in All-Star voting |
Kevin Durant is fifth among Western Conference forwards in the most recent All-Star balloting released Thursday. Durant has received 474,506 votes, nearly 1 million behind Carmelo Anthony. Dirk Nowitzki is second (753,971) followed by Tim Duncan (685,390) and Pau Gasol (667,767).

2009 NBA Lottery Picks | Empty the Bench
James Harden, G, Oklahoma City Thunder: His well-trimmed beard isn’t the only thing that’s made Harden an early fan favorite in Oklahoma City. This team has been quietly building up its perimeter depth over the past year or so, and though for now Harden is playing second fiddle to starter Thabo Sefolosha off the bench, his hustle, smarts, and willingness to do whatever is asked of him has entrenched him in Scott Brooks’ regular rotation. Though it may not be until next year, it’s only a matter of time before Harden slides into the starting lineup and sticks there. A future All-Star? Probably not, but has the look of a significant piece on a winning team.

John Rohde: Right mix is right stuff for OKC |
The Thunder didn’t exactly dazzle the sellout crowd of 18,203 inside the Ford Center, with 20 turnovers and 50-percent shooting from the free-throw line. Ironically, it was two converted free throws from Nick Collison with 4.5 seconds remaining that was the difference between winning and losing. The Thunder remains a work in progress, but its rate of success has revved up considerably this season. Just goes to show what can happen with good talent and great chemistry. The Thunder is 18-14 overall and riding its first five-game winning streak since relocation. Sure beats the heck out of last year, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before. The Sonics/Thunder hasn’t been four games above .500 since the 2004-05 season in Seattle. The Thunder isn’t the most talented team in the league, but it might have the best chemistry. Coach Scott Brooks could make a strong argument he has the most close-knit team in the NBA, perhaps all of pro sports.

Dallas Mavericks Blog | Dallas Morning News
Meanwhile, Barkley also had pointed remarks about All-Star Weekend coming up next month in North Texas. He said of Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant: "If he isn't an all-star, I'm not going.''