Thunder Bounce Back With Scrappy Win At New Jersey
Grant Belcher, News9.com
NEWARK, New Jersey – New Jersey had the game going exactly how it wanted it: slow-paced, low-scoring and sloppy.
Unfortunately for the Nets, the more-talented Thunder still couldn't help but win.
New Jersey tried to slow down the NBA's fourth-best offense but couldn't quite keep up in an 84-74 Oklahoma City victory on Saturday.
The Thunder bounced back from an uncharacteristic loss against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday to top another of the league's worst teams (New Jersey is 4-12) with two days of rest.
OKC was held well below its average of 100 points per game, but also displayed some impressive defense of its own.
It held the Nets to just 31 percent shooting from the floor and a just as impressive 3-of-23 from 3-point range (13 percent). New Jersey has relied heavily on the 3-ball since losing starting center Brook Lopez, who had surgery on a broken foot.
Though the outcome of the game was essentially never in serious jeopardy, OKC failed to provide ample distance between itself and the Nets.
After a dunk from Kevin Durant put the Thunder up 13-12, Oklahoma City never trailed again in the game.
OKC led by 13 at the half and a layup from Russell Westbrook with 8:19 to play gave the Thunder their largest lead of the game at 17.
Without Lopez to clog up the paint, New Jersey was lost in the middle on both ends of the court. The Thunder outrebounded the Nets 55-46 and racked up 42 points in the paint.
Serge Ibaka led the charge in the paint defensively, putting up five blocks and extending his streak of games with a block to 28 straight. He added nine rebounds.
Durant had an impressive double-double with 20 points and 15 rebounds, his fifth double-double of the year.
Russell Westbrook led all OKC scorers with 21 and James Harden had 16 points to go with nine rebounds.
Guards Deron Williams and MarShon Brooks led New Jersey with 14 points each.
The Thunder (13-3) are in the midst of a five-game stretch against teams with losing records, and will continue that span by hosting the Detroit Pistons on Monday. Tipoff at Chesapeake Energy Arena is set for 7 p.m.