The Oklahoma City Thunder scored a season-high 72 points in the first half versus the Boston Celtics Wednesday night and would go on to win 119-104 and tie the Miami Heat for the best record in the NBA at 26-7.
The Thunder led by 23 at halftime and as many as 27 in the second half but Boston did make a run eventually cutting the lead to eight in the fourth quarter.
With 2:47 left Kevin Durant banked home a 15-footer on the same baseline out of bounds play Oklahoma City ran to beat Golden State last week to give the Thunder a 112-102 lead.
Then with 1:36 left James Harden penetrated and delivered a beautiful dime underneath to Serge Ibaka for a dunk that put Oklahoma City ahead 114-104.
Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 31 points in the game and turned the ball over only twice along with six assists. Durant finished with 28 and Harden and Daequan Cook each chipped in with 17.
The Thunder put on quite a display in the first half led by Harden who scored 15 points and was plus-31 in the first two quarters. As a team the Thunder shot 8-of-12 from three-point land as well.
Boston turned the ball over 18 times in the game while Oklahoma City just 14 times.
The officiating felt weird in the fourth quarter with a couple of late whistles and surprising technical fouls called against the Thunder. Ibaka was hit with a technical after seemingly doing nothing other than boxing out Kevin Garnett.
ESPN announcer Hubie Brown noted how the two younger officials in the game weren’t making any calls and the veteran Mark Davis was forced to make every call which was causing the late whistles.
Brown also kept bringing up the Thunder’s susceptibility to blowing leads — obviously referencing last year’s playoffs — but the Thunder did good to hold on tonight.
This is the area where Harden will be crucial for the Thunder is when he creates for others late in the game. Durant and Westbrook are great closers individually but Harden can get a guy like Ibaka an easy dunk like he did tonight.
The Thunder now with the best record in the league will host the Los Angeles Lakers (19-13) tomorrow night in their final game before All-Star Weekend.