BOSTON — The Oklahoma City Thunder had every reason to pack it up and head for home during the first quarter of their game against the Boston Celtics.
Playing their second road games in as many nights, the injury ravaged Thunder, playing without stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook plus four other players and dressing 10 men, fell behind 18-3 midway through the opening period.
But good teams don’t quit.
The Thunder, riding a wonderful effort by guards Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow, stormed to a 109-94 victory, their first win in six road games this season.
“It’s a reflection of our organization,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said after Jackson and Morrow, combined for 42 points after halftime to lead the way to the win. We don’t make excuses. And we have quite a few built-in excuses. But we don’t do it.
“It’s a reflection of our organization and we take pride in that — we take pride in doing our job every day.”
A night after scoring a career-high 29 points in a loss at Milwaukee, Jackson scored 20 of his 28 in the second half and Morrow scored 19 of his 28 in the fourth quarter. The Thunder (3-6) scored 67 points in the second half.
“Reggie played well,” Brooks said. “He did a great job of controlling the tempo of the game. We don’t want to get up and down the court and take bad shots — we want to get up and down the court and find a good shot.
“I thought he was terrific tonight. And then on the defensive end, when we were mixing things up, he was locked in on all coverages — and that’s the job of a point guard, to get everybody involved on the offensive end and then get everybody on the same page defensively. I thought he did a great job leading the team.
Morrow, a veteran who scored 10 points Tuesday night in his first game after starting the season as one of the injured, was 8 of 8 in the fourth quarter.
Jackson, averaging 21.8 points per game coming in, had 14 points and four of his eight assists in the third quarter, scoring five straight in the final 49.8 seconds of the quarter to give the Thunder a four-point lead; and his team went on to make the former Boston College star’s latest homecoming sweet.
“I love it. It’s almost like another home,” Jackson said of Boston. “I played here for three years with BC, we played here against UMass. I always enjoyed this atmosphere. I can’t really find any better sports city with all the organizations — NBA city of course Oklahoma City, the fans are the greatest — these people love their sports.
“It’s a great atmosphere to play in, playing in the Garden.”
The Thunder were 10 of 24 from 3-point range and the Celtics were just 9 of 33 from behind the arc.
Forward Lance Thomas had 13 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which was guilty of only eight turnovers — one fewer than the Celtics.
Guard Rajon Rondo just missed had a triple-double for the Celtics, scoring 20 points and adding 12 assists and nine rebounds. Fellow guard Avery Bradley contributed 17 points as all five Boston starters scored in double figures.
“Their passion was obvious and evident,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of the Thunder. “Credit to them. We talked about guys like Morrow, if you ever leave Morrow, he’s going to score.”
The Celtics hit eight of their first 10 shots from the floor and took that big early lead. The Thunder got it down to nine by the end of the quarter and got as close as one — but no closer — in the second quarter.
The Thunder started the quarter with six straight points from former Celtics center Kendrick Perkins, who received a nice ovation when he entered the game with 4:18 left in the first quarter. He finished with six points and four rebounds.
“They just got it going, honestly,” said Celtics forward Jared Sullinger, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds. “They played with emotions out there, they played with attitude and they had a great effort and it showed. Every shot they were celebrating like it was a game winner.”
NOTES: Celtics G Rajon Rondo was back in the lineup after missing a game having a screw removed from his surgically prepared left hand. … In addition to their long-term injury list, which is led by F Kevin Durant and G Russell Westbrook, the Thunder were also missing F Perry Jones (knee) and swingman Andre Roberson (foot) and two others. … Durant was on the court two hours before game time, taking stationery shots as he makes his way back from a broken foot. … Celtics G Marcus Thornton was out with an ankle sprain suffered in practice on Tuesday. … The Thunder return home to face the Detroit Pistons on Friday, and LeBron James brings his Cleveland Cavaliers in for their first game against the Celtics on the same night.
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