We knew the Sixers were good. What we probably didn’t know, and didn’t want to imagine, is how bad the Thunder could be: in the third quarter in the City of Brotherly Boos, OKC managed to miss 18 of 20 shots, scoring a miserable ten points in twelve minutes. The combination of the two should have been an easy Philly win, but the Thunder put together a 15-4 run in the last five minutes, courtesy of some serious defense. It would have been easier, I suggest, had OKC not missed a ton of free throws in the process, but what counts is what’s on the board at the horn, and we’ll take it: OKC 92, Philadelphia 88.
This game was marked by lots of second chances — the Thunder had 19 offensive rebounds, the Sixers 13 — but few actual second-chance points. Despite six players in double figures, Philly shot only 41 percent; still, this was better than the Thunder, which struggled to 38.5 percent after a 50-percent first half and that horrific third quarter. Those who argue that Elton Brand is past his sell-by date should note that the almost-33-year-old forward rolled up a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds). And third-year shooting guard Jodie Meeks, a game-high +13 for the night, is streaky but fun to watch.
Nick Collison, back from a bout with contusions, played almost twenty minutes; he didn’t score, but he happily gathered in half a dozen rebounds. The Big Guns got their prescribed points — Russell Westbrook 22 along with 13 boards (!), Kevin Durant with 23 — and James Harden once again paced the bench with 16. If you picked the first of March for the date Kendrick Perkins gets hit with a suspension, you just might be right about that; as of tonight, he’s got one technical to go before the hammer comes down, and what are the chances he’s not going to get it against Orlando?
But that’s tomorrow, followed by a game in Atlanta on Saturday and then a five-game home stand.