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Durant shines in crunch time

AP

Kevin Durant played the fourth quarter Monday night with the intensity of an NBA Finals game.

Showing plenty of emotion down the stretch and scowling at the Atlanta bench on multiple occasions, Durant scored 41 points to rally the Oklahoma City Thunder past the Hawks 111-109 for their eighth straight victory.

The star forward hit the game-winning jumper with 1.5 seconds left, capping Oklahoma City’s comeback from a 14-point deficit in the second half.

“I know we play a lot of games and a lot of people say January doesn’t mean anything,” Durant said. “But when you’re playing this game with your heart and passion like we do, sometimes you’ve got to sit back and just enjoy it.”

Durant scored 13 in the fourth quarter, including a 4.9-meter, step-back jumper with 25.5 seconds remaining that put the Thunder ahead for the first time since the opening 2 minutes. Paul Millsap tied it for Atlanta before Durant knocked down the decisive 3.6-meter shot while being guarded by DeMarre Carroll.

“Coach just drew it out for me and I had to make a play,” Durant said. “It was an emotional game. It was up and down the whole game. My emotions were everywhere, so I just had to try to keep it together at the end of the game and make a play for my team.”

Shelvin Mack tried to throw a pass to Millsap on the final play, but Thabo Sefolosha knocked it away. Millsap scored 23 points to lead the Hawks, who managed only one basket and two points in the final 3:50.

Oklahoma City is 6-0 at home this season when trailing going into the fourth quarter.

“I think that’s a direct result from the competitive spirit we have,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.

Durant’s 11-game streak of 30 or more points is the longest in the NBA since Orlando’s Tracy McGrady did it in 14 straight games in March and April 2003.

“He just hit some tough shots,” Carroll said of Durant. “The shots were contested and he hit them. I just think we really lost the game on our own. We missed two open threes. We got the shots that we wanted. We just missed them. . . .”

Durant had another efficient outing, shooting 15 of 25 from the field and 5 for 7 from 3-point range. During his streak, he has scored 40 or more five times, including a 54-point outing against Golden State.

Brooks said he has run out of superlatives to describe what Durant is doing.

“There’s nothing more to say,” Brooks said. “He’s a special player. He’s going to be an MVP candidate until he decides to retire. . . .”

Raptors 104, Nets 103

In New York, Patrick Patterson stole Deron Williams’ inbounds pass and made the go-ahead jumper with 6 seconds left, and Toronto stopped a five-game winning streak by Brooklyn for the second time this month.

Kyle Lowry finished with 31 points and seven assists for the Raptors, who moved 2½ games ahead of the Nets for the Atlantic Division lead.

Pierce scored 33 points, making seven 3s in a strong bounce-back performance after going just 2-for-10 in his emotional return to Boston on Sunday.

T-Wolves 95, Bulls 86

In Chicago, Kevin Love scored 31 points to lead Minnesota over the Bulls.

Suns 124, 76ers 113

In Philadelphia, Gerald Green scored 30 points and Goran Dragic had 24 to guide Phoenix past the Sixers

Clippers 114, Bucks 86

In Milwaukee, Blake Griffin dominated the paint with 20 points, Jamal Crawford scored 25 and Los Angeles ended its seven-game road trip with a win.

Jazz 106, Kings 99

In Salt Lake City, Derrick Favors had 17 points and 12 boards, and Marvin Williams added 16 points and 11 rebounds to power Utah past depleted Sacramento.