This Greenless/Durantless Thunder team continues to impress as they came out tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers and got their 4th win, in 5 games. It was an early start for the Thunder tonight as they jumped out to a nice lead that the 76ers would chip away at and surpass for the rest of the first quarter. After one period of play, it was a 6 point lead for Philadelphia at 24-18. The 2nd quarter, however, was a game changer as the Thunder went on a 20-2 run to start the quarter, and finished the 2nd period by outscoring the Sixers 30-12 to take a 48-36 lead into the locker room. It was all down hill from there as the Thunder would hold a solid lead for the rest of the game. The final score was Oklahoma City 89, Philadelphia 74.
Who in the world would have ever thought this Thunder team was capable of playing this type of defense? I mean seriously, two months ago if you were to tell me the Thunder would hold any team in this league to 74 total points, I'd have laughed in your face. But since Thabo joined the team, the defensive effort and effectiveness has gone through the roof. Its really no coincidence that the only game they have lost in their last five, was the lone game that Thabo didn't play in.
As this team continues to play well without its two highest scorers (Durant/Green), anticipation begins to grow for their return. Without them this team has gelled into a solid team-first, defensive-minded basketball team, and it'll be interesting to see if they can continue that while injecting those 40+ points per game back into the lineup.
The Krstic/Collison combo once again came up big combining for 32 points and 19 rebounds. For a team that has struggled so long to find an inside presence, suddenly has a inside collaboration that is working. Night in and night out, these two guys are doing what it takes to help this team inside, and at the end of the night when you combine the two of their numbers, it always comes out looking pretty solid. They may not be Tyson Chandler, but they are doing the work and then some of a Tyson Chandler when you put their production together.
The Thunder will hit the road for a 3 game stretch starting in Sacremento on Tuesday. It will be fun to watch and see if this team can keep up its recent winning ways on this next 3 game road trip that has the Thunder playing the Kings, Nuggets, and Suns before returning home a week from Monday to play the Spurs.