Thunder vs. Celtics. Titanic defensive struggle, yes? Um, no: it was 66-56 at the half, and OKC opened up a 21-point lead over Boston in the third. Beantown closed to within 14, but the Thunder opened the fourth with a 9-3 run, and that was pretty much the end of the story: Oklahoma City 119, Boston 96, a verdict that was never really in doubt.
The Celtics admittedly weren’t at full strength, with Rajon Rondo out with knee issues and Courtney Lee about to be dealt to Memphis, but hey: no Westbrook. And Boston did bring as close to an A-game as possible, with Avery Bradley and OKC expat Jeff Green each dropping in 19. Jordan Crawford added 17 more, and Kris Humphries paced the reserves with 14. The Celts were decent from the 3-point arc (11-23), not so much from the 1-point line (15-24).
A couple of career highs on the Thunder side: Jeremy Lamb (13 points) recorded six assists, and Reggie Jackson, for the first time, knocked down 27 points. With all this going on, Kevin Durant could take it relatively easy: 21 points in 27 minutes, and he watched the fourth quarter from the bench, as did Kendrick Perkins, who scored 12 against his old team. (We will pause for a moment to savor the spectacle of Perk in double figures.) Maybe the secret ingredient, though, was actually hanging on to the ball: OKC recorded only nine turnovers all night. There have been games when but never mind, let’s not go there.
Next: out West to meet the Jazz (Tuesday) and the Nuggets (Thursday), followed by a visit Saturday from the Bucks. After that, things get hairy.