Nick Young was definitely gunning for the Thunder tonight. The Philadelphia swingman has worn several uniforms in recent years, but he’s always been at least a slight thorn in OKC’s side, and tonight he led the Sixers from the bench with 21 points. What’s more, teammate Thaddeus Young, starting at forward, landed ten points of his own. For a minute, or more precisely for 24 minutes, this game looked like a knock-down, drag-out fight, the Thunder up only 46-42 at the half. Then came the second half. The Thunder defense held, and the offense began to click, and the 76ers were duly 86ed, 109-85.
Incredibly, this happened without Serge Ibaka blocking a single shot. The Serge Protector did seize ten rebounds while scoring 15 points, but tonight was more finesse than force: only three blocks, but 13 steals. In fact, everybody who played recorded a steal except Kendrick Perkins and hey, he got one of the blocks. Even Hasheem Thabeet got a steal. The Thunder shot 52 percent, 59 percent from the Crosstown Expressway (10-17); it’s almost enough to make me overlook the six free throws they missed. Then again, they had 27 tries. The Sixers made only six all night in eight tries. (Because you’ll ask: Russell Westbrook sparkled with 27, and Kevin Durant shone with 26.)
Philadelphia did do several things right. Jason Richardson rattled off nine points in what seemed like no time at all in the second half, and Jrue Holiday handed off the ball like an NFL quarterback. (Holiday had nine assists; nobody else on either team had more than five.) Dorell Wright got busy in the fourth quarter. They missed rather a lot of shots, though, finishing at a hair over 40 percent, and they gave up 20 turnovers. For a moment, I thought the Thunder were going to end up with 20 turnovers, since they’d lost ten halfway through the second quarter, but they managed to finish with a nicely mediocre 18.
Next game is Sunday at noon, which is bad enough; what’s worse, it’s in Toronto, where the Raptors always seem to have the Thunder’s number. And is it still a back-to-back if it’s followed by a Monday-night game?