It was nice to see Kevin Durant finally have a good game.
After doing nothing against the Celtics — literally, he did nothing — Durant bounced back with his second triple-double this season and 10th consecutive game with at least 30-points, putting up a cool 32-14-10 on 12-17 shooting. Insert statement here about him being good at this basketball thing.
It wasn’t really a Slim Reaper kind of performance though, and that’s really only because it wasn’t required. The Thunder were in complete control of the game from the second quarter on, fending off any small Sixer run with a strong answer to keep them at an arm’s length.
The big reason why: Serge Ibaka was fantastic. He started the game 6-6 from the floor and finished 12-16 for 25 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. It might be a little too late for it, but Ibaka’s making a clear last minute All-Star push. That’s now nine straight double-digit scoring games for Ibaka, posting averaging of almost 16-10 in the month of January. And not to subtract from what he’s doing individually, but so much of his recent push is tied directly to Durant, and his spell of brilliance. For example: Tonight Ibaka had 12 buckets. Six of them were assisted by Durant.
Obviously, the Sixers aren’t good. And even had Durant sat, a win would’ve still be expected, especially with the way the Thunder performed last night in Boston. But that’s now seven straight for OKC, with them all coming in a nine-day span. In those nine days, they’ve discovered themselves, and did it mostly by just climbing aboard the slim frame of Durant and letting him take everyone to another level.
But here’s a bit of growth for the Thunder: Durant was clearly wonderful, and Ibaka’s support was splendid, but the Thunder won a game in which Reggie Jackson went 1-9, Jeremy Lamb went 2-9 and Kendrick Perkins went just 1-4 (just kidding). They gave up 19 offensive rebounds, turned it over 20 times, but still held Philly to just 37.8 percent shooting.
Those type of things won’t work in the games that are ahead, but the Thunder are finding ways to work business-like wins in, much in the way they often do with Westbrook. They’re leaps better than the Sixers. And even though they coasted through a lot of the game, they showed it throughout the night. In previous Westbrook-less games, it seemed like it was always a struggle and that the margin for error was woefully trim. Again, helps a lot the 76ers stink, but that didn’t matter against the Jazz two weeks ago.
And here’s the biggest takeaway from tonight’s game: No surprise press release is coming about Kevin Durant and his shoulder situation. He might still be sore, and he might not be 100 percent. But he’s OK. And even with one and a half arms, he’s good enough to drop 32-14-10 in the most casual of manners, and lead OKC to a comfortable win.
- It continues to amaze me how the Thunder steadfastly refuse to wear their home whites with black shoes on the regular. It looks so good.
- There have been two games of at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the NBA this season. Kevin Durant has both of them.
- Serge Ibaka with his fourth 20-10 game of the season. Coming into this year, he’d had four total in his career.
- Ibaka had five blocks in the first half. He finished with five blocks. His activity didn’t dip, though. It was more that the 76ers never really challenged him anymore.
- There have been two 20-10-5 games in OKC history, and Ibaka has both of them.
- The bucket KD got his 30th point on was just nasty. A filthy in-and-out dribble left Thad Young in carbonite.
- Durant put up his first double-double since Jan. 11. That’s one thing that’s slipped a bit without Westbrook, is his rebounding. He had 11 double-digit rebounding games the first two months of the season. Before tonight, has had only one in January.
- Reggie Lamb tonight was off tonight: Just 10 points on 3-18 shooting.
- Perry Jones had a nice six-minute run tonight. Went 3-3 for six points. Last two games, he’s scored 16 points on 7-9 shooting.
- When Derek Fisher drives the paint, has there ever been, at any point, a time where you thought, “Yeah, this has a good chance of resulting in two points”?
- Nick Collison had a high quality game. In 26 minutes, he had 12 points on 5-6, with three rebounds. And those 26 minutes are the second-most he’s played this season.
- Steven Adams shaved his mustache. Most disappointing thing that’s happened to the Thunder this season. And yes, I’m included everything that’s happened this season.
- Still don’t understand what the Grizzlies were thinking giving Tony Wroten away. That guy can play.
- Things you could do in the time it takes Perk to perform a post move: Read the Old Testament, learn karate, watch the second season of The Wire.
- The Thunder are now 7-0 with Royal Ivey. His 10-day contract is up tomorrow. Obviously you re-sign him. So be expecting that tomorrow.
Next up: Home against the Hawks on Monday