Final, Thunder win 101-83: Even without Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder were more than capable of dispatching the Boston Celtics.
Serge Ibaka dropped 21 points and Jeremy Lamb totaled 19 points as the Thunder used a 27-13 third quarter to run away and hide from the Celtics. Jeff Green led the Celtics with 16 points on 7-for-17 shooting, although Gerald Wallace (13 points on 4-for-6 shooting) and Brandon Bass (11 points, 5-for-7) both played better overall.
In his first game back from a one-day rest, Rajon Rondo finished with five points, eight assists and two rebounds. He shot just 2-for-7 from the field but also committed just three turnovers.
Fourth quarter, 2:37, Thunder 96-77: With three minutes to go, fans have started streaming for the exits. Maybe they’re convinced this game isn’t worth watching anymore, or maybe there’s free beer on the concourse.
For the Celtics’ sake, we’ll go with the free beer excuse for now.
Fourth quarter, 5:26, Thunder 90-74: Maybe this is just a tease, but at least the Celtics are showing some life. Chris Johnson finishes a nice bounce pass from Phil Pressey on the break and Rajon Rondo gives OKC his patented fake-pass driving layup to give the Celtics some momentum, however small.
That’s enough for the Thunder to talk things over, though. Any basket by Boston amounts to an awful breakdown by OKC at this point.
Fourth quarter, 8:45, Thunder 84-65: Kelly Olynyk fires up an airball and, well, that’s sort of how it’s going for the Celtics now. This game has devolved into a defense-free, up-and-down-the-floor jaunt into Blowoutville.
The only thing left for OKC to do now is to see if it can get Steven Adams a basket. He’s the only Thunder player who has played that hasn’t scored.
End of third quarter, Thunder 77-58: As far as ugly quarters go, this was one for the ages.
The Celtics managed just 13 points while shooting 5-for-20 from the field in the third quarter. They missed all five 3-pointers they took and had an equal amount of turnovers (five) as baskets. They were outrebounded 15-9 for good measure.
Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson each had nine points in the period, while Jared Sullinger, who was 2-for-5, was the only Celtic to score multiple baskets.
It’s a good thing for the Celtics that Kevin Durant isn’t playing. He might have been able to outscore the Celtics all by himself.
Third quarter, 2:52, Thunder 75-55: Yes, you read that score right. And yes, the Celtics are a real NBA team, not some group of JV scrubs in disguise. But you’d be forgiven for thinking either was a lie.
With Reggie Jackson slicing up Boston’s defense, OKC is on a 25-9 run since halftime to take a commanding 20-point lead. Stevens has gone with an all-defense lineup of Joel Anthony, Brandon Bass, Gerald Wallace, Chris Johnson and Phil Pressey.
As you might expect, the lineup isn’t scoring. Unfortunately for the Celtics, it’s not doing a whole lot of stopping, either.
Third quarter, 7:55, Thunder 60-51: Somebody let the Celtics know the second half started. They don’t seem to be aware.
Their bodies are on the court, but their minds are clearly elsewhere as the Celtics came out listless after the break. After three straight fruitless possession, Stevens called a timeout even after an OKC kick ball retained possession for the Celtics. Not even keeping the ball is enough to hide the Celtics’ ineffectiveness in the last four minutes.
Halftime, Thunder 50-46: Having no Kevin Durant hasn’t exactly been no problem for the Thunder, but so far it hasn’t been fatal.
Jeremy Lamb has been steady-hot, not quite red-hot, and leads all scorers with 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting. He’s feasting on Boston’s makeshift rotation of two-guards, which has featured Chris Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Jeff Green in stretches.
Green is being aggressive again but the results aren’t as gaudy as they were Wednesday. He’s just 5-for-12 from the field and has missed all five 3-pointers he’s attempted.
Wallace has been the Celtics’ most consistent player with 12 points, while Brandon Bass has challenged OKC down low. Bass has won those challenges more often than not, getting six hard-earned points against the tough front line of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.
Second quarter, 5:38, Thunder 39-36: Vitor Faverani hasn’t played much since Kris Humphries started forcing his way into the lineup. In fact, it’s been nine days since Faverani made an appearance in a game. Hump and Kelly Olynyk just haven’t given any reason to put another big man on the court.
In his first action in more than a week, Faverani showed he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. He helped Gerald Wallace trap Thunder point guard Reggie Jackson in the corner, forcing OKC to take a timeout to retain possession.
Second quarter, 7:47, Thunder 37-34: If Jeremy Lamb keeps playing like this — really, the way he’s played all season — the Thunder may be able to tread water long enough to stay relevant until Russell Westbrook gets healthy.
Lamb has a game-high 13 points while leading a 7-2 OKC burst. Sully is back on the court, playing through what has to be some serious pain his his finger, but so far it’s not a triumphant return. He got the ball on the perimeter but was whistled for a travel as he tried to drive.
End of first quarter, Celtics 28-27: Gerald Wallace may want to stick with this whole “backcourt” thing. It’s suited him so far.
Wallace is on his way to posting another solid performance as the starting two-guard for the shorthanded Celts. He has eight points on 3-for-3 shooting with a 3-pointer and a free throw. That last bit might be the most amazing accomplishment for Wallace, who has struggled from the stripe all season.
The Celtics and Thunder have shot 22-for-34 combined, revealing more of a lack of defense than any great offense. Neither team is really defending the arc, were they’re a combined 4-for-10.
First quarter, 2:53, game tied 23-23: Sully’s not back out there yet, but he available to return. The team said he dislocated his right index finger, but it was reset back in the trainer’s room. He’s now on the bench.
Without him, Brandon Bass has given the Celtics a presence in the post, even against shot-swatter Serge Ibaka. Bass muscled in for a pair of layups right over the shot-blocking ace to help the Celtics keep pace with the Thunder.
First quarter, 7:13, Celtics 12-10: Rajon Rondo’s back, but Jared Sullinger has still been the Celtics’ best player for the season as a whole. And now he’s in a lot of pain.
Sully came up grabbing his hand and cringing after Thabo Sefolosha dropped in a layup to pull OKC within a bucket. Remember, he injured his hand earlier in the season and was wearing a protective wrap for a time. But this looks like it might be his other (right) hand.
As for the play on the court, it’s going fairly well for anybody that loves offense. The Celtics hit their first four shots before Sully missed a 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock. The teams hit eight of their first nine shots combined. Even with Kevin Durant out, it looks like the TD Garden fans might see their share of scoring tonight.
6:10 p.m.: Brad Stevens has one less thing to worry about tonight. Granted, it’s a big thing.
Kevin Durant will not play as a precaution after he injured the shoulder Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs. OKC coach Scott Brooks informed reporters prior to the game that Durant would not play. Perry Jones III will start in his place.
Royce Young of CBS Sports reports this is the first game in OKC Thunder history in which neither Durant nor Russell Westbrook will play.
Before Brooks made his announcement, Stevens was asked how he would slow down Durant. He didn’t seem confident in his answer.
“I don’t know,” Stevens said.
“I’ve got an idea about how we’re best going to try it,” Stevens said. “Bottom line is, I was talking earlier, all of us run actions to try to get guys an angle or to get the defender behind somebody. You’ve just got to get him the ball somewhere within the building and he can score.”
Rajon Rondo will be back after a one-game absence to rest his knee. With Avery Bradley (ankle) and Jerryd Bayless (toe) both still out, Gerald Wallace will start at shooting guard for the second straight game.
The projected starters appear below.
Perry Jones III
8 a.m. ET: Maybe this will be the game Kevin Durant doesn’t go for 40 points.
If it seems like Durant puts up 40-point games at will, the perception is not that far from reality. With five 40-plus performances on his ledger already this season, the Oklahoma City Thunder forward is pushing his squad to stay in the championship conversation even with stud point guard Russell Westbrook sidelined.
The Thunder (33-10) come to Boston having won five in a row, including two straight against the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs, who were the two top teams in the Western Conference at the time of those meetings. The Boston Celtics (15-29) just snapped a three-game losing streak with an overtime win over the self-defeating Washington Wizards.
In other words, things are a little different for these two clubs.
Rajon Rondo is expected back in the lineup after resting for the end of a back-to-back on Wednesday. This also will be Bostonians’ first up-close look at Chris Johnson, who contributed two impressive performances on the road as a 10-day contract signee.
Join us for updates and analysis from TD Garden during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET.