Westbrook, Thunder Rumble Past 76ers

The Oklahoma City Thunder (28-7) used late free throws and the play of stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to snatch a 92-88 victory on Wednesday night against Philadelphia. Westbrook finished with 22 points and a season-high 13 rebounds, while MVP contender Kevin Durant finished with 23 to lead the Thunder to their 6th consecutive victory. Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday led the Sixers (21-15) with 18 points and 3 steals apiece.

The charity stripe was a big difference in this game, with the Thunder scoring 16 more points via the free throw than the Sixers. OKC also outrebounded the Sixers 53-39, dominating the play in the paint with Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka.

Trailing by five points at the half, the Sixers opened up the third quarter on a 15-2 run, taking a 63-55 lead on a Jodie Meeks bucket with about 5 minutes left to play.

Iguodala dunks over Durant, one of his many acrobatic plays in this one; it wasn't enough, unfortunately (ESPN).

As has been the case with many of their games this season, the Sixers’ defense in the third quarter has helped them tremendously. After allowing the Thunder to make 50% of their shots in the first half, the Sixers limited them to a season-low 10 points on 10% shooting in the third to lead by three entering the final quarter. The Sixers seemed poised to finally snap their skid against great teams.

Lou Williams gave the Sixers their largest lead of the game when he sank a pair of free throws for a 74-66 lead with just over 9 minutes left to play in the game. The Sixers maintained that lead until Durant tied the score at 85 with 3:20 left, signaling doom for the home squad.

With 1:53 left, Durant sank a pair of his own free throws to give the Thunder an 87-85 lead. After the Sixers failed to score any points, Kendrick Perkins was fouled and made one free throw to extend the Thunder’s lead to 88-85.

The Sixers struggled to get anything going after that free throw by Perkins, so they called a much-needed time-out following two James Harden missed free throws; Harden still finished with 16.

Durant and teammate Royal Ivey celebrate the team's win over the 76ers (Getty/ESPN).

The Sixers have seen some very impressive teams this year, especially during the “Death Row” fortnight, as head coach Doug Collins called the span of 7 games in which the Sixers played conference contenders consistently.

The Thunder came into this game tied with Miami for the best record in the NBA. The Sixers, fresh off a 29-point victory over the Pistons, did not make it easy for the Thunder and once again proved they can play with the big boys.

Westbrook, attacking the rim against Brand here, Durant, Perkins, and Harden were too much to handle (Getty).

However, if the 76ers really want to make a statement, they need to win more of these games, just like they did earlier in the season against the Hawks, Lakers, and Bulls.

Philly’s next game is on Friday against Golden State, as they welcome troubled scorer Monta Ellis and the Warriors for another battle of offense versus defense.


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Categories: 76ers

Author:Curran Aiyer

Studying Finance, Business Analytics, and International Business at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University with a minor in Spanish. Aspiring to change the world by driving education and the importance of staying informed. Looking to share my learnings and knowledge on behavioral economics and how that correlates with investing in yourself wisely. Originally from Philadelphia and trusting the process.

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