Kevin Durant’s return to the lineup was welcome news for the Thunder fanatic, but I doubt it was welcome news to the Sixers. Even as Russell Westbrook rehabs his knee, the Thunder still aren’t dealing with the number of injuries the Sixers are. Jason Richardson was put on IR for the year after knee surgery, so they are already used to having to go without him. The problem was that three other players were out due to injuries last night. Brandon Davies was out with a fractured right small finger, Arnett Moultrie was nursing a left ankle injury, and Nerlins Noel was nursing a left knee injury. And you know the Sixers are feeling the pain, having lost four of their last five going into last night’s contest.
The 1st quarter stayed close the whole way. 4 ties and 4 lead changes denoted the quarter with the largest lead being the Thunder’s 6, while the Sixers’ largest lead was 1. It even ended with a 26-all tie.
The Thunder broke the game open somewhat in the 2nd quarter. With the score still tied at 30-all, and 9:19 to play in the half, the Thunder spark an 18-8 run that established a 10-point Thunder lead (48-38) with 3:02 remaining until halftime. The Thunder lead was still 9 (53-44) at the break.
The 3rd quarter was the one that provided false hope for the Sixers fanatic. At the 6:40 mark of the 3rd quarter, the Thunder were holding their largest lead at the time at 13 (69-56), when the Sixers sparked a quick 9-0 run that lasted exactly 1:30 to pull within 4 (69-65) at the 4:10 mark. Sadly for Sixer fans, this was as close as they would get to reclaiming the lead, as an immediate 14-6 run to end the 3rd gave the Thunder a 12-point lead (83-71) heading into the final quarter.
The 4th started with a quick Perry Jones alley-oop off of a Jeremy Lamb assist to establish a 14-point advantage (85-71). The Sixers tried to chip away, but being so shorthanded, they never pulled any closer than 8 points back. When the final buzzer sounded, the Thunder claimed a 103-91 victory that puts their record at 35-10 (Turns out the mistake wasn’t in the standings section. Well, the math in terms of games back was still wrong, but the record was correctly reflected. NBA.com accidentally added an additional win to the Thunder total in their last Game Review.), while dropping the Sixers to 14-30. The Sixers have now lost six of their last seven.
Durant’s 32 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists marks his second triple-double this year, and the fifth of his career. This also marks the 10th consecutive 30+ point game for Durant. With 10 assists though, you know he didn’t have to do it all by himself. Serge Ibaka had a major 25-point, 11-rebound double-double of his own. Thabo Sefolosha managed 11 points, and Nick Collison dropped 12 from the Thunder bench.
James Anderson’s 19 points led the Sixers. Thaddeus Young posted a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double of his own. Evan Turner dropped 15, and Spencer Hawes contributed 14 points. The stat that killed them was bench points, getting a grand total of 20 points from all bench players. This means that their leading scorer, Anderson, was just one made 2-pointer shy of outscoring the entire Sixers bench.
I’m amazed the Thunder even remember what rest is after the stretch they just endured, and yet they went 4-0 in it. Last night’s victory marks the 7th straight, which is the third time this season that The Thunder have strung together a streak of at least 7 wins. Do you really think the Hawks are going to care about any of that when they come to town tomorrow? Of course not. They’ll be too busy looking to end the season series in a split, after losing the first matchup 101-92 in Atlanta. The Thunder would be wise to not look past this squad, seeing as they have a serious ax to grind here in OKC. Tip-off time is scheduled for 7pm CST, and will be broadcast via Fox Sports Oklahoma, WWLS The Sports Animal, and NBA League Pass.