PHILADELPHIA — NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant received an unwanted night off Friday.
On Saturday, Oklahoma City’s star forward went right back to work, scoring 32 points in the Thunder’s 103-91 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, and adding 14 rebounds and 10 assists for his second triple-double of the season, and the fifth of his career.
Durant, who missed Friday night’s victory in Boston with a sprained right shoulder, is just the sixth NBA player since 1990 to fashion a 30-point-plus streak of 10 games or more. He shot 12-for-17 from the floor, as the Western Conference-leading Thunder (35-10) won its seventh straight.
“I felt like I was out for so long, even though it was one game,” he said. “I hate sitting out, but it was best for me and my shoulder.”
He said the shoulder was “a little stiff” to start the game, but was not a serious hindrance. He did say, however, that he did not want to take too many outside shots. He was 1-for-4 from 3-point range.
“My teammates kept feeding me and putting me in some positions to be successful,” he said.
Which is nothing new, as far as Thunder coach Scott Brooks is concerned.
“He has bounce in his step just about all the time,” Brooks said, “and that’s the beauty of our team and Kevin Durant. He loves the game. He’s always going to find enough energy to put us in a position to win a game. I thought tonight, (his) all-around game was fantastic. Having a triple-double after he came with a sore shoulder is remarkable on his part.”
Sixers coach Brett Brown actually thought his team did “a pretty good job” on Durant, to no avail.
“Everybody’s scared because he’s Kevin Durant and he scores in such a variety of ways,” Brown said. “He is the NBA’s hottest player. He’s always been an incredibly difficult guard. … You blink and he’s got a triple-double.”
The Thunder, which also received a 25-point, 11-rebound, five-block performance from forward Serge Ibaka, has now had three winning streaks of at least seven games this season.
Oklahoma City, which played its 17th straight game without guard Russell Westbrook (knee surgery), has also beaten Philadelphia nine straight times, and has won 12 straight road games against Eastern Conference opponents. Overall, the Thunder is 13-2 against the East this season.
“You’re going to have to do a lot of things right to beat that team, with or without Russell Westbrook, especially with the stage of our program,” Brown said. “They’re a really good example for us, given where they have come from.”
Guard/forward James Anderson had 19 points to lead the Sixers (14-30), who lost for the fifth time in six games. They have also dropped nine of their last 11 at home.
Guard/forward Evan Turner and center Spencer Hawes added 15 and 14 points, respectively, and forward Thaddeus Young contributed 13, along with 10 rebounds and eight steals.
Oklahoma City built a 13-point lead early in the third quarter, only to see Philadelphia reel off nine straight points, the first seven of those by Hawes, to cut the gap to 69-65.
But the Thunder scored 10 of the next 14 points, the last two of those when Durant scooped up a loose ball and went the length of the court for a dunk to reach the 30-point plateau. That left OKC with a 79-69 advantage. By quarter’s end, they were up by 12 at 83-71.
The Sixers drew no closer than eight in the fourth quarter. The only drama at that point was whether Durant would pick up his 10th assist to complete the triple-double. It came when he fed center/forward Nick Collison for a jumper from the right wing with 4:54 left.
Ibaka made his first five shots as the Thunder moved to a 19-13 lead early in the game, but Turner crammed six points into the final 1:43 of the quarter, enabling the Sixers to forge a 26-26 tie.
Then Durant went to work in the second period. There was a fadeaway jumper from the left baseline, a dunk and later a layup, another slam and a 3-pointer from the top of the circle, over guard Michael Carter-Williams. Just like that, Oklahoma City had forged a 43-34 lead.
Durant had 11 points in the quarter and 18 in the half, which ended with the Thunder on top, 53-44. Ibaka shot 8-for-9 and scored 16 points, with seven rebounds and five blocks. Durant also grabbed seven boards in the half.
Durant and guard Thabo Sefolosha then scored six points each in the opening minutes of the third quarter — Sefolosha on a pair of 3-pointers — as OKC moved to a 67-54 advantage.
NOTES: Thunder coach Scott Brooks said before tipoff that the overall excellence of G-F Kevin Durant has been overlooked during his hot streak. “I’m proud that he’s done it on the defensive end, and also in the passing department,” Brooks said. “He can score, like a lot of guys in this league can score, but what makes him a special player is that he wants his teammates to score and he wants to stop the other team from scoring.” … Brooks is also impressed by the development of Sixers G Michael Carter-Williams. “He’s very good, very crafty,” Brooks said. “It seems like he’s been in the league for five or six years. He plays with poise out there. He’s very active defensively. He’s active with long arms. He gets in the passing lanes. And he’s a better shooter than I thought.” … Sixers G Tony Wroten returned after missing the three previous games with a sprained right ankle. He scored nine points in 16:32.
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