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Oklahoma City Thunder trounce Philadelphia 76ers, 122-97; Westbrook nets 35th triple double

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Behind interior dominance, Oklahoma City bullied its way to a sixth win in seven games

W. Bennett Berry

Following a brief setback, the Oklahoma City Thunder returned to high-caliber execution with a 122-97 victory over the visiting Philadelphia 76ers.

Russell Westbrook (18 pts, 14 ast, 11 rebs) recorded triple-double #35 while Enes Kanter (24 pts, 11 rebs) and Victor Oladipo (18) helped Oklahoma City win its sixth game in seven outings.

In what amounted to a competitive whitewash, OKC out-rebounded young Philadelphia 54-25 while dominating the points in the paint category 76-50.

Although, Oklahoma City’s mastery wasn’t quite complete until 36-year-old Thunder-staple Nick Collison unleashed a seven point, five rebound fourth-quarter effort.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia (26-45) prolonged the inevitable by Nik Stauskas’ (5 3PM) hot first-half shooting. Though, Stauskas (20) wouldn’t connect from deep again, as OKC’s seminal 15-0 post-halftime run would render further proceedings moot between the interconference rivals.

After a hotly-contested Oct 26 opener, Oklahoma City swept its season-series vs. Philadelphia 2-0.

On this occasion, Billy Donovan’s resilient group limited the Sixers to 42/32% FG/3P shooting. The Thunder also commanded in fast-break/second-chance points 46-23.

During a contest that never held a genuine competitive vibe, Oklahoma City simply out-muscled and over matched the 76ers for 48 minutes underneath. Reserve Enes Kanter easily put forth his best performance this season.

With eleven games remaining, following a three-day rest, Oklahoma City embarks upon a three-game road trip, immediately followed by a three-game home stand.

Eight of OKC’s remaining opponents sport sub .500 records —as the sixth-place Thunder sit two games behind Utah for opening-round postseason home-court advantage.

And as the regular season unfolds, Oklahoma City’s favorable schedule allows for prime playoff seeding if the Thunder prevails in contests vs. lesser iterations.

That stated, due to OKC’s unenviable home/road win-loss discrepancy, it behooves this unit to push for the #4 slot.

The streaking Thunder (41-30) can potentially make mid-to-late April noise; however, four guaranteed first-round games at Chesapeake vs. a mid-caliber foe (Utah, LAC, Mem) would make that goal much easier to attain.

THUNDER PRO’S

  • Enes Kanter: Kanter was a beast during his 20 minutes of play. Moments existed in which Kanter resembled prime Shaquille O’Neal...no lie.
  • Russell Westbrook: Triple-double #35 came with ease. Westbrook vs. McConnell was just unfair. The Brodie overwhelmed Philly’s point-guard corps.
  • Rebounding/Offensive Rebounding: Oklahoma City grabbed 18 offensive boards, and 54 overall, with brute force. This contest featured the largest front-line discrepancy between any two teams this season.

THUNDER WOES

OKC’s three-point shooting (4-16), free-throw shooting (22-of-30), and turnovers 16 would’ve been exploited by a higher-caliber team.

THUNDER LINES OF WONDER

  • Enes Kanter: 20 minutes, 8-9 FG, 8-9 FT, 24 points, 11 rebounds
  • Russell Westbrook: 27 minutes, 6-6 FG, 6-of-6 FT, 18 pts, 14 asts, 11 rebs
  • Thunder Bench: 63 points
  • Steven Adams: 5 offensive rebounds

Oklahoma City next takes the court Sunday, March 26 vs. Houston in nationally televised action.