In terms of game action, there’s not really much to go over. The Thunder started of by getting 3 points the “old-fashioned way”, only to be immediately countered by a 3-ball at the other end. Too bad a 3-3 tie was not only the closest the 76ers would get all night, it also marked the game’s only tie, as the Thunder would subsequently finish off a 10-3 run that put them firmly in the driver’s seat for the remainder of the game. A lead of 37 points was actually established at one point before the Thunder finally settled on a 125-92 victory. This 33-point margin of victory marks the largest for the Thunder this season, with their previous one being the 29-point murdering of the Knicks on Christmas Day. This also completes a 2-0 season-series sweep in which the Thunder dominated both games. In fact, this marks their 10th straight victory over the 76ers, making it look as though OKC really has Philly’s number on the court.
Although this game marked the 15th straight loss for the Sixers, tying this for the second-largest losing streak in the team’s history. This current 15-game losing streak matches the one they experienced from Feb. 9th to Mar. 11th of 1994. Yes, you have to go back 20 years to find a period when the Sixers’ game was this rough around the edges. 6 more consecutive losses will set a new franchise record that was established from Jan. 9th to Feb. 11th of 1973, when the Sixers hit a 20-game slide. To put that into perspective, that’s nearly a quarter of an entire NBA season.
The common link between the two biggest Thunder victories of the season are the Russell Westbrook triple-double performances. He became the 5th player in NBA history to post one on Christmas Day against the Knicks, and Tuesday night’s performance marks not only his second of the season, but the second-fastest accumulation of triple-double numbers in NBA history, as he posted 13 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds in just over 20 minutes on the court. You have to go all the way back to 1955 to find the one guy who racked up a triple-double in fewer minutes, when Jim Tucker of the Syracuse Nationals racked one up in roughly 17 minutes of floor time.
His performance was the only eye-popper for the Thunder, as Kevin Durant racked up 42 points while being one rebound shy of a double-double. Plus, he accumulated those numbers before being asked to sit out of the 4th quarter, making LeBron James’ 61-point performance the previous night look far less impressive now.
Perry Jones III started his second game in place of the injured Thabo Sefolosha, and is starting to make those scouts who talked about his bad knees look rather pessimistic about his potential in the NBA. For such bad knees, he seems to have an awfully explosive first step. He added 12 points off of 4-for-6 shooting, including draining his lone attempt from beyond the arc. NFL fans who know anything about the Niners can simply point to Frank Gore and say, “He came into the NFL on two rebuilt knees, was expected to do nothing, and yet he accumulated more rushing yards than any other running back in 49ers history.” Is it really hard to imagine Perry Jones overcoming the injury doubts and becoming a solid player at the NBA level? Not for anyone who’s seen people overcome the psychological barrier injuries tend to set up, and subsequently become serious forces in their sport that opposing coaches have to factor into their game plans. PJ III is starting to show me that kind of potential.
Let’s not forget the other two big contributors, as Serge Ibaka dropped 14 points, and Reggie Jackson added 14 of his own off of the Thunder bench.
The 76ers were able to coax a few inspired performances, despite being out of the game for the vast majority of it. James Anderson’s 20 points led the way, followed by Michael Carter-Williams’ 14, and Henry Sims’ 10. Byron Mullens also provided an inspiring 15-point performance off of the Sixers bench.
Tonight begins the first of a two-game road trip, as the Thunder travel to the US Airways Center in Phoenix, AZ to be hosted by the Suns. The Thunder took the lone match-up in OKC by a margin of 103-96 back on Nov. 3rd, but there are two more scheduled in Phoenix. This one is scheduled for an 8pm CST tip-off, which should stand since this is the one game played tonight that isn’t part of TNT’s double-header. This action is set to be broadcast via the usual suspects: Fox Sports Oklahoma, WWLS The Sports Animal, and NBA League Pass.