Kevin Durant, asked if the Thunder might overlook the 1-17 76ers tonight, is reported to have quipped: “Nah. We feel like we’re 1-17 too.” And really, however ragtag the Philadelphia roster may appear to be, you won’t persuade me that they’re tanking: they demonstrated considerable skill closing out quarters, something the Thunder didn’t do until the fourth, and I don’t recall any of the Sixers looking lost or bewildered. Indeed, if anyone looked lost out there, it was Durant, who was off his feed or something; he went 3-11 for 10 points. It didn’t matter, though: OKC wins it 103-91 and goes up to, um, 6-13.
This game, I think, was a good example of complementary efforts. Steven Adams scored seven points but collected no rebounds; Kendrick Perkins pulled nine boards (and a Flagrant 1 foul) and no points. And where you’d expect KD to be playing hero ball, there was Jeremy Lamb, knocking down two treys in the final three minutes to seal the deal. Russell Westbrook led all scorers with 27.
But still there were anomalies. The Thunder bench scored 38; the Philly bench scored, um, 38, including a team-high 21 from Robert Covington. Luc Mbah a Moute, who can’t shoot a trey to save his life, knocked down two of them, easy as pie. Michael Carter-Williams (16 points, 14 assists) and Nerlens Noel (11 points, 10 rebounds) posted the only two double-doubles tonight. And give the Sixers credit for going after the damned ball: they outrebounded OKC 44-40, and held a 19-6 edge off the offensive glass. They might yet break their record for futility (9-73, 1972-73), but I’m finding it hard to see that happening.
One more game on this road trip, Sunday against the low-compression Detroit Pistons — who, I remind you, beat OKC at home last month — and then a couple of interesting home games: with the Bucks (who beat OKC in Milwaukee last month), followed by the Cleveland Cavaliers. (Two words: “LeBron James.”) Assuming the Cavs dispatch the Raptors tonight, they’ll be 11-7.