Keys to victory: Thunder 106, Rockets 98

What were the keys to the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 106-98 win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night?

Durant’s big game

Kevin Durant scored 42 points to pace the Thunder. Durant now has 11 40-point games this season. No one else in the NBA has more than five, so Durant has more than twice as many 40-point games as any other player.

Records vs Other Top-5 Teams
In Western Conference

The last time an NBA player finished the season with more than twice as many 40-point games as anyone else was Tracy McGrady, who had eight in 2003-04, when no one else had more than three.

Durant scored 21 of his 42 points on pull-up jump shots Tuesday, including 10 of his 12 fourth-quarter points. Durant entered the game averaging 7.9 points per game on pull-up shots, tied with teammate Russell Westbrook for fourth in the league, according to NBA player-tracking data.

Durant now has a streak of 29 straight games with at least 25 points. The only player with a longer streak in the past 30 seasons is Michael Jordan, who had a 40-game streak in the 1986-87 season.

Howard shut down again

Dwight Howard was held to nine points, thanks largely to Steven Adams. Howard was 0-for-5 when defended by Adams. Howard has three games this season in which he has played at least 25 minutes and scored fewer than 10 points. Two have come against the Thunder.

Howard is averaging 9.7 points and 9.0 rebounds on 34 percent shooting against the Thunder this season. He’s averaging 19.1 points and 12.6 rebounds on 60 percent shooting against everyone else.

Howard hasn’t helped himself at the free throw line. He’s 3-for-15 in three games against the Thunder after going 1-for-6 on Tuesday.

Westbrook shakes off rough start

Westbrook committed three of his four turnovers in the first quarter, but recovered to have a big game. Westbrook had 20 points, including 11 in transition, with five assists and one turnover in the last three quarters.