Kevin Durant scored a game high 28 points Monday night and Russell Westbrook knocked down 26 more as the Oklahoma City Thunder came into the “New Garden” and handed the Boston Celtics their fifth straight loss by a score of 97-88. The Thunder came out strong from the opening tip and although Boston would make a run in the third they never could get over the hump in this contest. The Celtics had some strong individual performances but just could not put it together as a team. Paul Pierce led the way for the frustrated home team as he scored 24 points in the game.
Celtics bench boss Doc Rivers has said that he believes this edition of the Celtics is still an elite team; and their only problem is a lack of conditioning. Monday night, the team looked in good enough shape physically; however they played like a team that still lacks chemistry and looks like they are still getting to know one another. If they truly hope to be able to seriously contend in this truncated campaign; they are all going to have to get on the same page in a hurry before they fall too far behind to catch up.
Boston’s offense stalled out with about six minutes left in the opening period and the Thunder would take full advantage of the situation. Oklahoma City ended the quarter on a 16-6 run holding the advantage at 25-17. The Celtics would cut one point off their deficit in the second but Durant slammed the rock through the hole with authority with 23 seconds remaining. As the two teams went to their locker rooms at the half the Thunder had the upper hand with the score 46-39.
The arena in Boston came to life during the third as the Celtics offense came back to life and the club threatened the visitors. With 8:49 on the clock Rajon Rondo drove the lane putting the ball through the cylinder and bringing his team to within one point of their opponents at 50-49. The two teams traded baskets for the next few possessions; however Durant drained a 24 foot trey with 6:33 left in the period and the Celtics could not respond. The Thunder pulled away in the last few moments of the third and led 72-62 at the end of the period. Boston never could put together another run in the final 12 minutes of play and the visitors got an easy victory.
Durant dropped 28 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, a block and a steal for the night. Westbrook scored 26 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals while Thabo Sefolosha had 19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steal and 1 assist.
Pierce knocked down 24 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block and 1 steal while Mickael Pietrus came off the bench with 14 points, 2 rebounds and a block. Kevin Garnett racked up a double-double with 12 points, 12 boards, 5 assists sand a block while Jermaine O’Neal also notched a double-double including 12 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. Rajon Rondo just missed a triple-double as he had 12 points, 9 assists, 9 rebounds and a steal for the night. Oklahoma City has a record of 12-2 and travel to Washington as they will face the Wizards on Wednesday while Boston falls to 4-8 and will host the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.