The Thunder predictably struggled without star player Kevin Durant on Friday night in Boston —
Wait, what? Oklahoma City won? Despite missing the final 15 shots it took from the field?
Yes, indeed the Thunder did win despite Durant and Jeff Green sitting out the game with ankle injuries. And not only did Oklahoma City hand the Celtics their first home loss of the season, the Thunder did it with defense. Because they had to.
Oklahoma City’s 89-84 win at the TD Banknorth Garden featured one of the most frustrating fourth quarters I’ve ever seen the Thunder play. I was convinced for the last several minutes that OKC was going to waste what was an otherwise stellar effort against the defending Eastern Conference champions, but the shorthanded Thunder clamped down defensively when it had to and took advantage of similar offensive struggles on Boston’s part to find a way to escape with its second straight win on the Celtics’ home floor.
The Thunder played the game with an obvious intensity missing for much of the rest of the first part of the season. I don’t think it requires going out on much of a limb to say that the focus probably came from the players realizing they had to play a fantastic game to win without KD and Uncle Jeff. The effort was certainly not perfect, as it never is. Boston shot more than 50 percent from the field in the first half before slipping to a still-good 48.5 percent for the game, and that’s still a better shooting percentage than you’d like to see night-in and night-out from a Thunder team that forged its identity on the defensive end last year. But it was good to see maximum effort and intensity for 48 minutes. Perhaps it will carry over into Saturday at Milwaukee and beyond. Keep Reading…