Westbrook, Durant power Thunder to win over 76ers

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 18, 2016 10:54 PM

(The Sports Xchange) - Russell Westbrook set the tone and Kevin Durant finished the job.

The dynamic duo for the Oklahoma City Thunder was brilliant once again as the surging Northwest Division leaders clinched a playoff berth.

Westbrook notched his league-leading 13th triple-double with 20 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists as the Oklahoma City Thunder cruised past the Philadelphia 76ers 111-97 on Friday at the Wells Fargo Center.

"I come out and compete every night at a high level and try to keep my energy up for my teammates," Westbrook said. "I think it's fun to see where we're playing the right way. It's fun for our guys to see everybody happy playing the right way."

Durant added 26 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, scoring at least 20 points for the 54th straight game.

"It's just fun playing the right way," Durant said. "We had some nice plays out there. You could tell the crowd was into it. We just like the way we played tonight."

Enes Kanter scored 16 points and Steven Adams had 12 points and 11 rebounds for Oklahoma City, which improved to 47-22 and won for the third straight time.

The Thunder won their 14th in a row over the 76ers -- their longest streak over any opponent in the league.

Oklahoma City also won its 20th road game, pushing its mark to 20-13.

After building a 17-point lead at the end of the third quarter, the Thunder quickly extended it to 95-72 with 9:17 remaining. They continued to play an up-tempo style and Philadelphia had trouble locating Oklahoma City's shooters.

The game was never in doubt from there.

The biggest drama came late in the fourth quarter as Westbrook needed one assist for his triple-double. His pass to Durant for a layup with 4:14 left sealed the triple-double.

"There's a competitive anger you see in their faces, a determination and will more than you can put any stat on," 76ers coach Brett Brown said of Westbrook and Durant. "We shake their hands. They are one of the elite teams in the NBA and they are the head of the snake."

In the process, Westbrook tied Grant Hill (1996-97) and Jason Kidd (2007-08) for 13 triple-doubles in a season dating back at least 25 years.

"I'm more impressed and more amazed at 7:30, 8:00, 9:00, when he comes flying out at shootaround and comes jumping like it's a trampoline, that's impressive," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said of Westbrook.

Nik Stauskas led the 76ers with a career-high 23 points and Hollis Thompson added 16.

"I've been continuing to work hard and I've been working and coming here all year waiting for things to click," Stauskas said. "The past four or five games, I've gotten into a good offensive rhythm."

Jerami Grant scored 15 points, Nerlens Noel added 12 and Isaiah Canaan had 10 for Philadelphia, which dropped its fourth consecutive game and fell to 9-60.

The 76ers, who have lost 17 of their last 18 overall, are 1-14 on the second half of back-to-backs this season.

The Thunder were utterly dominant on the boards with a 63-36 margin. They had 39 boards in the first half, an arena record for a half.

"We're small and we're not thick," Brown said. "We're light right now. ... They are the best in the NBA. I wish it was better than that."

Westbrook electrified the crowd with a vicious one-handed dunk for an early 15-10 lead in the first quarter.

"Every once in a while I may throw one down," Westbrook said. "A lot of people tell me I haven't been dunking a lot lately, but I beg to differ."

After trailing 27-23 at the end of the first quarter, the 76ers surprisingly ripped off an 11-0 run to go ahead 34-27. It was their largest lead of the first half.

The Thunder received 25 of their 53 first-half points from Durant (14) and Westbrook (11). Oklahoma City led 53-47 at halftime.

Stauskas was hot for the 76ers with 13 points in 16 first-half minutes. Stauskas hit his first five shots from the floor and wound up 5 of 6.

Philadelphia hung tough thanks to only three turnovers in the first half.

"Give Philadelphia credit. They're never out of it," Donovan said. "They keep playing. It's a great tribute to Brett."