Is this a playoff preview?

The Thunder won the season series over the Hornets tonight, three games out of four, in a fairly convincing fashion: New Orleans led 55-49 at the half, but they lacked buzz thereafter and fell to Oklahoma City, 104-93.

Both sides were missing a starter: Emeka Okafor for the Bees, Thabo Sefolosha for the Thunder. Chris Paul apparently sprained his ankle early on, but came back; Trevor Ariza sprained his ankle later in the game, and didn’t. And Nenad Krstić managed only 14 minutes before departing with a then-unspecified ailment. So the body count was higher than usual, but bench players for both sides stepped up.

As usual, though, the big problem for OKC was David West, who rolled up 20 points and reeled in 15 boards. Chris Paul missed about six minutes, but still scored 15; Quincy Pondexter and David Andersen came up with double figures from off the bench. More impressive: eight steals, versus three for the Thunder.

But this was one of those nights when Kid Delicious was in the zone. Kevin Durant picked up 43 points (on 19 shots!) and 10 rebounds. Serge Ibaka, recipient of a few extra minutes, took advantage of the time to grab 12 boards, block six shots, and score 8. And speaking of extra minutes, Eric Maynor got some, mainly because Russell Westbrook was in foul trouble; Maynor led the bench with 9 points. Westbrook still managed 10 points and eight assists, and Jeff Green contributed 12 points and seven boards to the cause. The Thunder owned the boards, 44-32, and shot a creditable 52.9 percent. Weirder yet, they put up two dozen treys, and actually connected on ten of them. (KD had five.)

It’s supposed to be about 0 degrees tonight, so it’s a good time to be going on a road trip. The Thunder head to Phoenix Friday night, and jump up to Utah on Saturday before returning to the Gee, I Hope It’s Warm Arena on Tuesday to host the Grizzlies.





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