For a while, it appeared the Thunder was in for another dog fight.
Then the second half started.
Oklahoma City turned a four-point halftime lead into a dominating 109-85 victory against Philadelphia on Friday night, improving to 22-1 this season when it eclipses the century mark.
Russell Westbrook continued to show marked improvement lately with his shooting touch, scoring 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting and dished out five assists. For the first time this season, Westbrook shot 50 percent or better in consecutive games.
The electric point guard scored 10 points in a hard-fought first quarter when the rest of the Thunder was struggling to connect from the floor, helping OKC take a 22-21 lead into the second. Then he became a distributor and game manager as the rest of his teammates began to find their stroke.
Kevin Durant scored just two points in the first quarter on 1-of-4 shooting but, in typical KD fashion, turned it on when he needed to, en route to 26 points on 8-of-15 shooting and 9-of-10 from the free-throw line.
OKC got the ball rolling in the third quarter, outpacing the 76ers by eight in the quarter. A huge spark was provided by Serge Ibaka, who was relentless on the boards and opportunistic on the defensive end. Ibaka also had his mid-range game going, finishing with 15 points, 10 rebounds and three steals. Westbrook added another 10 points in the third quarter, dominating his former UCLA running mate Jrue Holiday.
But for as much as the Thunder outplayed Philly in the third, it was the fourth quarter when OKC really put its foot down. The Thunder stepped up the tempo and played at a pace the 76ers never got comfortable with, as OKC grew its lead to as many as 27 points on a Kevin Martin 3-pointer once the starters headed to the bench for good with three minutes remaining.
Martin was the only other Thunder player in double figures with 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting but was perfect on all four of his attempts from behind the 3-point arc on the night to give Oklahoma City a huge boost off the bench.
Overall the Thunder bench was outscored 37-30 but was a huge factor in OKC extending its lead in the second half after it was outscored 17-6 in the first half.
Oklahoma City shot 52 percent from the floor and 59 percent from 3 (10-17) while holding Philadelphia to 40.5 percent. Another major advantage came from the Thunder's aggression on the offensive end, which resulted in OKC going 21-for-27 from the foul line against Philly's 6-for-8.
With the victory, Oklahoma City improved to 25-7 on the season and 17-3 in Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Thunder returns to the court on Sunday when it faces the Raptors in Toronto at noon.