Thunder coach Scott Brooks admitted he had no idea what to expect in terms of energy from his team Monday night against the visiting New Orleans Hornets.
OKC had survived 124-118 in overtime at home the night before against Denver, thanks to a career-high 51 points from Kevin Durant, 40 points from Russell Westbrook and a triple-double from Serge Ibaka of 15 rebounds, 14 points and 11 blocked shots.
In addition, sixth man James Harden was in street clothes Monday with an ankle injury, reserve forward Nick Collison was out with an injured quad and the Hornets were riding a three-game winning streak.
The Thunder had plenty of early energy, cruising to a 31-18 lead after the first quarter and a 60-38 advantage at halftime. Though the lead was stretched to 26 early in the third quarter, the second half wasn't nearly as energized as the Thunder was outscored 55-41, but still managed to survive with a 101-93 victory.
"I thought that team (OKC) just took it to us at the jump," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said.
The Thunder now owns a 10-game winning streak at Chesapeake Energy Arena, where it is 13-1 on the season.
OKC is 25-7 overall and tied with Miami for the best record in the NBA.
Thunder starting center Kendrick Perkins, still recovering from an injured knee at Houston last Wednesday, had an interesting stat line against New Orleans, tying a season-high with 13 rebounds, six blocked shots (one short of a career-high), five points and three assists, but he also six turnovers and one technical foul.
No complaints from Brooks, however.
"One thing about Perk, he always gives us the best that he can," Brooks said. "Every time he comes in he gives us good effort. He didn't play well (Sunday) night. A lot to do with it is he was banged up. I admire guys who play banged up. You never play injured, but you always play banged up."
Perkins now has 10 technicals on the season, even with having one rescinded. Players will serve a one-game suspension when they get their 13th and every other technical thereafter.
Thunder reserve center Cole Aldrich played 19 minutes, had three rebounds and two blocks. He also had one steal, which happened near midcourt, but Aldrich promptly threw the ball away when he tried to start a fast break the opposite direction.
Perkins later threw the ball away while trying to do the same.
"I think we'll keep with Russell (at point guard)," Aldrich said with a smile. "We all saw (what happened) when all our big guys tried to play point today."