Fear The Beard? Superman? Lin-Sanity? Life without Russell Westbrook? No problem for any of the above. (And clearly the last item is the most fearsome.) The OKC Thunder played a blanketing defense in the opening period, as Houston missed their first 12 shots from the floor and never were in the 117-86 route. With the win, the Thunder retake the top mark in the NBA, with the league’s third-best team – and second best in the west record-wise – Portland coming to town on New Year’s Eve. It was the team’s second win since their all-star guard and second-leading scorer Westbrook underwent a third surgical procedure on his injured knee. He is not expected to return until after the all-star break.
Durant scored 33 with 13 rebounds and 5 assists, as the Thunder handed out 28 as a team. Jeremy Lamb came off the bench to score a career best 22 points, and OKC held Houston to 36.5 % shooting from the floor. Stats didn’t matter in this one – Durant looked like he could have scored 50 with ease. James Harden (aka The Beard) was a non-factor against his old team (8 points, 2 of 9 FG). Dwight Howard had 9/9 and was troubled with fouls (and the specters of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins on his hips). Jeremy Lin? Are you insane? OKC’s Ryan Gomes equalled Lin’s output of 6 points and he has barely played all season.
You can hear my recap with post-game sound below… and please remember to tune in to KOSU-FM for your news weekday mornings – and sports updates which will resume after the first of the year.