The Thunder defeated the Hornets last night for a third time this season. In the process, OKC stretched their current winning streak to three games while at the same time ending the Hornets' win streak at three. It was clear from the very beginning that the Thunder were focused on protecting the rim so that they didn't get flayed as they did against the Nuggets a night before. As a result, they often yielded medium range jump shots to the Hornets post players, but those players, in particular Chris Kaman, could not convert.
The Thunder defense forced the Hornets into a horrendous shooting first half, holding them under 30% for the first 24 minutes. At the other end of the court, they played good, conservative offensive basketball that enabled them to build up a healthy lead. The bench play in particular was surprisingly effective. Despite not having either James Harden or Nick Collison for the night, the Thunder reserves, comprised of Royal Ivey, Nazr Mohammed, Cole Aldrich, and Reggie Jackson did a good job extending the lead during that time. The net result was a 22 point halftime lead, a lead that was large enough to effectively give the OKC starters the second half to focus on burning the clock.