Thunder pound fight out of 76ers

(Torrey Purvey)

By Michael Kinney

OKLAHOMA CITY — Philadelphia coach Brett Brown almost thanked the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.
Despite his 76ers losing 122-97 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, Brown seemed in awe of the lesson the Thunder taught his young squad.
“I think it’s a fantastic example for our young guys on the physicality of playoff type teams,” Brown said. “That physical side of it stood out to me more than it has in a long time. You look at (Steven) Adams, you look at (Enes) Kanter, Taj Gibson, and the discrepancy on the boards. It’s a reminder that if you want to play late in April and May, maybe June one day, that’s the physicality that the playoffs bring.”
Russell Westbrook recorded his 35th triple-double of the season to lead Oklahoma City. He scored 18 points — going 6 of 6 from the field and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line — in 27 minutes. He also recorded 14 assists and 11 rebounds. According to Elias, that is the first time in NBA history a player had a triple double while not missing a shot.
Westbrook didn’t attempt a 3-pointer for the first time since March 14, 2016 — a span of 83 games.
“I was just playing, trying to take my time,” Westbrook said. “Watched film and tried to pick my spots better. I wanted to continue to get my teammates involved throughout the game. It just happened that way.”
Oklahoma City’s Enes Kanter wasn’t perfect from the field, but he was close. He scored 24 points on 8-of-9 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds off the bench. Victor Oladipo scored 18 points for the Thunder (41-30).
The 76ers were paced by Nik Stauskas, who came off the bench to score 20 points. However, 15 of those came in the first half.
Shawn Long scored 13 points, and Dario Saric and Robert Covington each posted 12 points for Philadelphia (26-45).
After scoring only 15 points in a loss to Golden State on Monday, Westbrook made sure he was going to surpass those numbers Wednesday. He hit all four of the shots he took in the first quarter on his way to 12 points.
“Westbrook really did a good job,” Brown said. “Look at the stat line and it’s an interesting stat line, isn’t it? It was eye-popping and he just doesn’t go away.”
The Sixers used the 3-point shooting of Stauskas to keep within striking distance. He hit his first five attempts from behind the arc.
But it was Kanter’s ability to come off the bench and score at will in the paint that really disrupted Philadelphia’s defense. He was guarded by Jahlil Okafor, who provided little resistance.
Kanter played only 12 minutes in the first half, but racked up 19 points to give the Thunder a 63-50 halftime advantage.
“He knows how to play,” Westbrook said of Kanter. “He is very effective at that position, so I just watch and let him go to work.”
Oklahoma City went on a 15-2 run to start the second half. That essentially closed the book on the young Philadelphia squad.
“Those bigs were so tough,” Saric said. “It was a game against a team who was really ready, who is really tough, who is really strong. It was like a bar fight, but they were like the only guys in the bar who could really destroy us.”
NOTES: The Philadelphia 76ers confirmed Wednesday that C Joel Embiid will have season-ending knee surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus. … Oklahoma City G Russell Westbrook said he is not a fan of sitting out games when healthy. He missed only one game for rest during his entire career. “(To rest), that’s their own opinion. I like to play basketball so I like to go out and compete and have fun,” Westbrook said. “I think for me I look at it differently from being hurt and missing a lot of games, I embrace everything moment I have to play basketball and enjoy the time I can play, so that’s just how I think.:
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Writer with Eyeamtruth.com

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