Grant Belcher, News9.com
OKLAHOMA CITY – One sign of a good team is when a game can feel all but over by the end of the first quarter.
A lesser team is always capable of letting its opponent back in the game, but an elite team gives the feeling that it will only continue to pour it on.
Oklahoma City flexed its muscles with a wholly dominating 99-79 win against the Detroit Pistons on Monday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Thunder ran away with almost every single category in a game that was never really in question.
It all started with Russell Westbrook, who was able to get to the rim at will against the smaller Detroit defenders. He shot 11-of-17 on his way to 24 points, six assists and five boards in limited playing time.
James Harden also had a field day, doing his damage from both in the lane as well as beyond the arc. He shot 5-for-6 from 3-point range on his way to 24 points to co-lead the Thunder in scoring.
But the best part of the game for the Thunder wasn't the gaudy statistics, but rather the ability to once again rest their starters in the midst of a season where rest and recovery is more important than ever.
The starters once again sat the entire fourth quarter, with none of them playing more than 30 minutes in the game.
Related: Westbrook says Thunder might be the best organization in sports
Kevin Durant had 20 points in 29 minutes, marking the second time this season that the Thunder have had three players score 20-plus in one night.
And Serge Ibaka had a monster game defensively with five blocks and 10 rebounds.
Thunder forward Nick Collison suffered a sprained ankle after nine minutes of playing time and did not return to the game. His status for future games is uncertain.
The Thunder left no doubt from the beginning of the game, building their lead to 29-12 by the end of the first quarter.
OKC led by 27 at the half after shooting 58.5 percent. It was able to continue that shooting mark through the third quarter before the bench cleared and inevitably brought the overall percentage down.
Every active player on the Thunder roster played at least seven minutes on their way to holding Detroit to 34 percent shooting (28 percent from behind the 3-point line).
OKC improved to 14-3 on the year and kept its two-game buffer over the second-place challengers for the top spot in the Western Conference. The Pistons fell to 4-14.
The Thunder will have Tuesday off before remaining at home to host the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday at 7 p.m.