Thunder Outlasts Celtics

Sunday, March 10th 2013, 4:58 pm
By: News 9

The Thunder won for the eighth time in its past nine games but Sunday's victory against the Celtics certainly wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing of the bunch.

In fact, it was far from it for both teams, but Oklahoma City was able to fend off Boston for a hard-fought 91-79 victory.

The Celtics unleashed fierce defensive pressure throughout the game, forcing 14 Thunder turnovers and limiting OKC to 44 percent shooting and just 25 percent from 3. It was the fewest points OKC has scored in a game since Jan. 13.

But OKC responded by playing some pretty mean defense of its own, holding Boston to just 37.7 percent shooting and forcing 18 turnovers. The Thunder held Boston to just 25 percent in the second half.

It was a slobber-knocker of a game at Chesapeake Energy Arena but, as usual, Oklahoma City found a way to defend its home court, improving to 28-4 at the Thunderdome this season.

Kevin Durant scored a game-high 23 points and pulled down 11 rebounds but the Celtics didn't make things easy on the Thunder superstar. KD shot just 6-of-16 from the floor but managed to get to the line, where he converted all 11 opportunities.

Boston's Avery Bradley is rapidly becoming one of the league's best defenders and he made another strong case on Sunday by holding Russell Westbrook to just 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting with just one rebound and two assists.

Kevin Martin was the only other OKC player in double figures with 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

The Celtics closed the Thunder lead to end the third quarter and looked poised to make an even bigger dent with Westbrook and Durant on the bench to start the fourth.

That didn't prove to be the case thanks to backup point guard Reggie Jackson.

Jackson spearheaded an 11-2 run to start the final quarter, highlighted by two acrobatic shot clock buzzer-beaters and his defensive effort. By the time the Thunder's stars re-entered the contest, the Thunder had an 11-point cushion with 8:36 remaining.

From there OKC kept Boston at arm's length to even up the season series between the teams at 1-1.

Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 20. Former Thunder starter Jeff Green finished with eight in his first on-court appearance in Oklahoma City since he was traded in February 2011.

With the win, the Thunder improved to 47-16 on the season, while Boston fell to 34-28.

The Thunder is second in the Western Conference standings and will have a chance to make up some ground on Monday when it travels to face the first-place San Antonio Spurs at 7:30 p.m.