Thun­der swarms

Ok­la­homa City puts Charlotte away on its home court, 101-91

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - Brett Daw­son bdaw­son@ok­la­homan.com

Ray­mond Fel­ton still has his fans here.

The Thun­der’s backup point guard won an NCAA ti­tle with North Carolina and started his NBA ca­reer with the Charlotte Bob­cats, and there’s still some love for him in the stands and the Spec­trum Cen­ter.

When they filed out on Satur­day night, though, not every­body loved Ray­mond.

Ok­la­homa City snapped a three-game los­ing streak with a 10191 win against the Hor­nets, snap­ping a three­game los­ing streak with a lift from Fel­ton’s eight points, four re­bounds and five as­sists.

“It’s that will,” Fel­ton said after­ward. “Just tired of drop­ping th­ese L’s. Wanted to get a win tonight. Es­pe­cially, I wanted to get one here, back home.”

Fel­ton had about 30 fam­ily mem­bers and

friends in the crowd, he said, and any­one pulling for his team looked for a while like they might leave dis­ap­pointed. The Thun­der raced out to a 12-point first-quar­ter lead but trailed 59-55 at the half and by as many as six in the third quar­ter.

But Fel­ton and the Thun­der bench — of­ten, and of­ten-fairly ma­ligned this sea­son — de­liv­ered a jolt that at the start of the fourth quar­ter that turned the game.

Ok­la­homa City trailed 76-73 en­ter­ing the fourth, but opened on a 21-6 run to surge ahead 93-84 on Fel­ton’s 16-foot jumper with 6:35 to play in the game.

Dur­ing that stretch, Fel­ton scored six points and as­sisted on 3-point­ers from re­serves Josh Huestis, Alex Abrines, Pa­trick Pat­ter­son and Jerami Grant.

“Just try­ing to get in the paint, man,” Fel­ton said. “Make the de­fense com­mit. Those guys did a great job of get­ting open and knock­ing down shots.”

As the bench stormed in front, the Thun­der’s starters cel­e­brated on the side­line, en­er­gized by the play of their back­ups.

“I al­ways got en­ergy, but (they) def­i­nitely gave me some more en­ergy,” said start­ing point guard Rus­sell West­brook, who had 25 points, 10 re­bounds and seven as­sists on 10-for-27 shoot­ing. “Much-needed for me tonight.”

The Thun­der starters strug­gled to find a de­fen­sive rhythm in the first half.

The Hor­nets, play­ing for the sec­ond-straight night — and on an early 5 p.m. ET tip — started slug­gish but got rolling in the sec­ond quar­ter. Kemba Walker got into the heart of the Thun­der de­fense, and ball move­ment af­ter his pen­e­tra­tion found wide-open shoot­ers.

In the sec­ond half, Charlotte wore down and the Thun­der tight­ened up.

OKC held the Hor­nets to 32 points on 27.3 per­cent shoot­ing af­ter half­time.

That was in part due to the Hor­nets’ tired legs — “I think we just kind of ran out of juice, hon­estly,” for­ward Marvin Wil­liams said — but it helped that Fel­ton steered the sec­ond unit, and stepped on ac­cel­er­a­tor as he did.

On Fri­day, Billy Dono­van said, he’d talked to Fel­ton about creat­ing more shots for his sec­ond-unit team­mates, putting Pat­ter­son and and Grant in po­si­tions to score. Fel­ton, he said, “did a great job or­ches­trat­ing that group from the time he got off the floor to the time he came off.”

In his home­com­ing game, Fel­ton had a lit­tle some­thing left in the tank as the Hor­nets ran out of gas.

“We def­i­nitely wanted to keep go­ing at them, push­ing the pace at them,” Fel­ton said. “They wanted to slow the ball down. They played last night. We wanted to keep that pace up and make sure that we could wear their legs down. I hope they was get­ting tired.”

[AP PHOTO]

Thun­der guard Rus­sell West­brook drives past Charlotte’s Marvin Wil­liams (2) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14) dur­ing the sec­ond half of a 101-91 win Satur­day.

[AP PHOTO]

Thun­der for­ward Paul Ge­orge hangs from the rim af­ter a dunk against the Hor­nets dur­ing the first half Satur­day of a 101-91 win in Charlotte.

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