One of the stock sports clichés is “They wanted it more.” Hard to tell who wanted it more tonight: the Thunder led for most of the game, but the 76ers were never out of it, and when OKC simply stopped making shots with four minutes left, the Sixers closed in, and tied it at 98-all with a minute and a half left. And then nobody could score. Maybe nobody wanted it.
Then suddenly it was overtime, and Oklahoma City owns overtime. After hitting a meager two treys in 48 minutes, the Thunder knocked down four in four minutes, dropping the Sixers 116-109. You’re entitled to ask how it is that OKC scored a lousy 13 points in the 12-minute fourth quarter and 18 in the five-minute overtime, but again: Oklahoma City owns overtime. Over the past three seasons they’re over .800 in extended play.
Fifty-three minutes of game time, and Kevin Durant played 49:36 of it. The first half? Meh. Eight points. And yet he finished with 37. This isn’t an argument for benching Durant for 24 minutes and then turning him loose, but clearly the man does more damage after halftime. Russell Westbrook dropped in 30, Serge Ibaka 18, and Nick Collison a season-high 14. Attention K-Mart shoppers: Kevin Martin had another rough night, with three points in regulation — but a trey with 2:00 left in the OT shifted the momentum permanently. As radio guy Matt Pinto said, it’s not how many you get, it’s when you get ‘em. Still, the Thunder went 6-21 from out there.
For some time now, Thaddeus Young has been someone with whom you did not mess, and he remained so tonight, snagging 29 points and 15 boards. Next door, Evan Turner added 26 more. (Hmmm. 55 from the forwards. OKC had … 55 from the forwards.) And senior swingman Jason Richardson, on his 42nd team in the last century, scored right at his 13-point average. Richardson, I suspect, will still be here in 2050. Make no mistake: these Sixers are good. But if you’re going to beat the Thunder, you get only 48 minutes to do it.
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at home, against Charlotte, Houston and Utah respectively, then a quick trip to New Orleans on Saturday. Warning: this year’s Bobcats have utterly failed to suck.