Starters Sit For 4th As Thunder Dominate Celtics

Starters Sit For 4th As Thunder Dominate Celtics

I’m not going to lie to you here. When I saw the Thunder building another double-digit lead, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I ended up watching well into the 4th, despite our starters sitting (or maybe because of it). I think there was actually about 4 minutes left when I finally quit watching, confident that the Thunder lead would hold up.

Kendrick Perkins with the jam, as Kris Humphries look on. Perkins finished with 12 points. Humphries contributed 14 from the Celtics bench.

Kendrick Perkins with the jam, as Kris Humphries look on. Perkins finished with 12 points. Humphries contributed 14 from the Celtics bench.

The Celtics tried to hang around early, even up 9-7 with 8:42 to play in the first. Then an immediate 10-0 Thunder run put the Thunder up 17-9 with just under 7 minutes left in the 1st, and the Celtics never could regain the lead.

Serge Ibaka attempts a one-hander over Jeff Green. Ibaka finished with a 17-point, 11-ebound double-double. Jeff Green ended his night with 19 points.

Serge Ibaka attempts a one-hander over Jeff Green. Ibaka finished with a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double. Jeff Green ended his night with 19 points.

Although I was quick to notice that we weren’t the only ones missing our starting point guard. While Russell Westbrook’s “water on the knee” issue will leave him out for at least another month-and-a-half, Rajon Rondo missed last night’s game due to a torn ACL. The reports on Rondo’s return seem rather hazy. Even though he has been cleared to practice, and has been since mid-December, Rondo has been quoted as saying,

Rajon Rondo warms up in practice with teammate Kelly Olynyk. Rondo did not play in last night's contest, despite being cleared to practice.

Rajon Rondo warms up in practice with teammate Kelly Olynyk. Rondo did not play in last night’s contest, despite being cleared to practice.

“It might be mid-January, late February, I’m going to come back when the time is right and I get my stamina.”

Rondo on the sidelines.

Rondo on the sidelines.

As a matter of fact, I’ve even heard reports that Rondo may play for the Maine Red Claws in the NBA’s D-League for a few games, so he can test his endurance in game action. It’s not set in stone that he will spend time in the D-League, but Rondo himself even acknowledged the possibility.

Rondo in game action.

Rondo in game action.

So why exactly am I devoting numerous paragraphs to a Celtics player who didn’t even hit the floor last night? It’s because I feel like his presence would have made this an entirely different ball game. I’m sure we would have still pulled off the victory, but Rondo would have made us work for it.

Reggie Jackson looks for the outlet pass around Jordan Crawford. Jackson's 27 points led all scorers to take the floor last night, while Crawford chipped in 17 points for the Celtics.

Reggie Jackson looks for the outlet pass around Jordan Crawford. Jackson’s 27 points led all scorers to take the floor last night, while Crawford chipped in 17 points for the Celtics.

The big surprise is that the 21 points scored by Kevin Durant didn’t even lead the team. Reggie Jackson absolutely went off last night, scoring a career-high 27 points. Another big surprise is that while Serge Ibaka posted a wicked 17-point, 11-rebound double-double, his “twin tower partner”, Kendrick Perkins, actually dropped 12 points of his own. And as far as bench points go, Jeremy Lamb’s 13 points made sure we saw a healthy amount of them.

Jeremy Lamb with the pull-up jumper. Lamb contributed 13 points from the Thunder bench.

Jeremy Lamb with the pull-up jumper. Lamb contributed 13 points from the Thunder bench.

Jeff Green and Avery Bradley dropped 19 apiece for the Celtics, leading the team. Jordan Crawford added 17 points, and Kris Humphries dropped 14 from the Celtics bench.

Kevin Durant goes for the one-handed floater as Humphries and Avery Bradley look on. Durant was good for 21 points last night, while Bradley was good for 19.

Kevin Durant goes for the one-handed floater as Humphries and Avery Bradley look on. Durant was good for 21 points last night, while Bradley was good for 19.

This was a good win for the Thunder, but they’re back on the road again as they prepare for a Tuesday night match-up with the Utah Jazz. The game emanates from Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, UT. The broadcast can be picked up via Fox Sports Oklahoma, WWLS The Sports Animal, and NBA League Pass.

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