The time you don’t want to play the Thunder is right after they’ve lost, because they will take it out on you. Just ask the New Orleans Hornets, who found themselves down 36-18 after the first quarter and 66-37 at the half. At one point, OKC owned a 34-point lead. Things got a little easier for the Bees as the starters were eased off the floor, but not enough to make a game of it: Thunder 110, Hornets 95, despite New Orleans’ 40-36 advantage in rebounding and 7-12 shooting from beyond the arc.
That latter didn’t matter largely because of Kevin Martin, who went 6-11 on treys all by himself in a 27-point performance. (The Other Kevin delivered 4-5 in, yes, a 27-point performance.) The Thunder shot 54 percent for the night despite some errant hoists by Russell Westbrook; yet Westbrook still posted a double-double, with 12 assists to go with 10 points. In fact, OKC was just loaded with dimes tonight: thirty-one of them all told.
On a night like this, the benches get big minutes. Of the Hornets’ three men in double figures, two Ryan Anderson and Roger Mason were reserves; Robin Lopez led the starters with 12. New Orleans did some good things, with 23 assists for the night and only 11 turnovers, but their biggest moment of the night arguably was a brief altercation between Greivis Vasquez and Westbrook, which ended with double technicals. (A far bigger moment came earlier in the day, when Hornets GM Dell Demps got a multi-year contract extension, meaning he and coach Monty Williams will be around to see what their rebuilding efforts may bring.)
And after that one-shot road trip, the Thunder return home. Californians? Here they come: the Warriors on Sunday night, the Clippers on Wednesday. (Friday and Saturday will be spent on the East Coast, at Boston and Philadelphia respectively.) Kendrick Perkins had said something yesterday to the effect that “out of every 10 games, we should go no less than 7 and 3.” OKC is, yes, 7-3 through 10 games. Is he predicting a 57-25 season? I, for one, am disinclined to challenge Perk.