Thunder Prevail Over Celtics In Scrappy Road Game


Monday, January 16th 2012, 10:41 pm
By: News 9


Grant Belcher, News9.com

BOSTON – Great teams find a way to not only win the smooth, exciting games, but the sloppy games as well.

And it doesn't get a whole lot sloppier than the Thunder and Celtics' game on Monday night at the Garden.

Oklahoma City pulled out its seventh straight victory in a scrappy 97-88 game that featured as many turnovers as assists.

Both teams had trouble finding any sort of a rhythm as untimely fouls and poor shot selection marred the majority of the night.

The Thunder shot 45 percent - well down from their recent games of 50-plus shooting – but they also held Boston to 39 percent shooting in the game.

But despite the overall percentage, Oklahoma City closed out the contest with deadly accuracy from 3-point range in the final two minutes.

The Thunder were up six points when Thabo Sefolosha drained a 3 to get the ball rolling. It was the first of four straight 3-pointers in those final two minutes – another from Sefolosha and two from Westbrook – to close out the game in style.

Sefolosha had his best game of the year, hitting 7-of-9 shots (2-of-2 from 3) for 19 points, five boards and four steals.

Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for 54 of the team's 97 points (Durant had 28 and Westbrook 26). Both had seven rebounds and four assists each.

James Harden had a rough night, scoring just five points while dealing with four personal fouls.

Kendrick Perkins received a warm welcome in his first return to Boston since the trade last season that sent him to Oklahoma City in return for Jeff Green.

Oklahoma City dumped the ball down to Perkins in the post on the first possession of the game to let him go to work, but Perkins appeared a bit fired up in the early going, picking up two fouls and heading to the bench. He finished with a solid seven points, five boards and a block.

Paul Pierce led five Celtics in double figure scoring with 24 points.

With a loss from the Chicago Bulls earlier in the day, Monday night's game put the Thunder (12-2) in sole possession of the best record in the NBA. OKC was also three games ahead of the second place team in the Western Conference (Clippers) after the win against the Celtics.

OKC also won its seventh-straight game with a favorable schedule still upcoming. Its next five opponents all sit well below .500 in the standings.

That stretch starts off with a trip to the league-worst Washington Wizards on Wednesday, who have won just one game this year. Tipoff for that game will be at 6 p.m.