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Durant scores 51 as Thunder top Nuggets 124-118

By Jeff Latzke

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Feb. 19 2012 10:58 p.m. MST

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) gestures to the crowd in front of Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson (3) as the clock winds down at the end of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012. Oklahoma City won 124-118 in overtime.

Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — The "MVP" chants had subsided, the final seconds ticked down and Kevin Durant sauntered over to the sideline to give his mother a smooch on the forehead and a big hug.

For the first time, the two-time NBA scoring champion had eclipsed 50 points and it came on a historic night for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Durant scored a career-best 51 for the top performance in the NBA this season, Russell Westbrook added 40 points and Serge Ibaka had his first career triple-double as the Thunder beat the Denver Nuggets 124-118 in overtime Sunday night.

"To be honest, I didn't think I would be at this point when I was young," said Durant, still just 23 years old. "Everything has been a whirlwind for me, and I'm just happy that I'm here."

The Thunder trio became the first teammates in NBA history to put together a 50-point night, a 40-point complementary effort and a triple-double. No teammates had each scored 40 points since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen did it for Chicago in 1996.

"The way we came back and the shots that were made in the fourth quarter and for us to win, that feels better to get the W," Durant said.

"But 51 is pretty cool. As a kid, that's something that you dream about."

Durant hit a 3-pointer and drove for a dunk to tie the game with 4.4 seconds left in regulation, after Oklahoma City had rallied from nine points down in the fourth quarter — despite scoring 20 points in a row during a stretch spanning halftime.

Ibaka added 14 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocks to become the 14th player in franchise history with a triple-double and the first to do it with double-digit blocks. It was his third time with at least 10 blocks this season.

"It's unreal, man," Westbrook said. "Tonight was a nice, epic game."

Arron Afflalo scored 27 points and Andre Miller had 21 points and 10 assists for Denver, which had a shot to win at the end of regulation.

Ty Lawson, who missed a 3-pointer with 7 seconds left, also couldn't connect on an off-balance jumper from the foul line at the buzzer after pump-faking Westbrook into the air.

Reserve Rudy Fernandez (lower back strain) joined starters Danilo Gallinari (ankle) and Nene (calf) on the Nuggets' injury list, and coach George Karl went with his 13th different lineup of the season in 32 games.

Denver lost for the eighth time in its last 10 games. The last two have been particularly wrenching, on a tip-in with under a second left at Memphis and then an overtime thriller at West-leading Oklahoma City.

"They're one of the best teams in basketball and we took them to overtime. In a lot of ways, we won the game but the scoreboard says we lost it," Karl said.

"Somehow, some way, you've got to get to my team to show them that we won a lot of things tonight."

Westbrook hit a 3 on Oklahoma City's opening possession of overtime, and the Nuggets committed five turnovers to squander their chances in the extra period.

Fans in the sellout crowd chanted "MVP!" as Durant hit two free throws in the final seconds to surpass 50 points for the first time and put the finishing touches on Oklahoma City's ninth straight win at home.

His steal allowed the Thunder to run out the final few ticks and give him a moment to cherish with his family.

"They've been there with me ever since I was 8 trying to play this game," Durant said. "To score 50 points with them on the sideline at the highest level of basketball is a dream come true and a blessing. To go through it with them is pretty cool."

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