The Oklahoma City Thunder won this game in the first half and didn’t blow it in the second.
The Thunder led 31-19 after one then 60-38 at halftime as New Orleans shot 12-for-42 in the first two quarters while the Thunder shot 56 percent.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook would lead the way again each scoring 31 points. Scott Brooks looked like he wanted to rest his stars more, taking Durant out early in the first quarter, but couldn’t afford to as New Orleans made the obligatory NBA run in the third.
James Harden and Nick Collison both sat out this game so the Thunder bench was not as potent as normal. The second unit did step up for some parts with seven points in the first quarter and 18 for the game.
With the poor shooting by New Orleans, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins handled the glass for Oklahoma City as each grabbed 13 boards. Ibaka blocked three shots while Perkins swatted six.
This game was decided early and the score does not reflect how easy of a victory it was for the Thunder. Whenever the Hornets made a run and cut into the lead, Brooks simply brought back Durant and Westbrook and they started scoring again without missing a beat.
This is the strength of Oklahoma City this year that is different from the last two. They play like veterans now and like a team that’s been together forever. This is actually true in some sense despite their best players being only 23.
It’s a great sign of growth for this team. They definitely aren’t staying the same.
The Thunder (25-7) are off tomorrow night before hosting Boston (15-16) Wednesday night. That game can be seen on ESPN.