The well-documented half-court struggles on offense that plague the Thunder at times reared its ugly head in the third quarter and nearly cost OKC a win Wednesday night.
A defensive-minded Philadelphia 76ers team hounded the Thunder into 2-for-20 shooting and limited OKC to 10 third-quarter points. It was the fewest points the Thunder has scored in any period this season.
Philadelphia outscored Oklahoma City 19-10 in the third period to turn a 53-48 halftime deficit into a 67-63 lead going into the final period.
“We struggled in the third quarter,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “I didn't think we were moving the ball well enough. We were coming off of our screens (without) good force and energy. And then we got the ball and we dribbled it too much. That's why we missed a lot of shots.”
Serge Ibaka hit a 20-foot jumper three minutes into the period, and Daequan Cook was the only other Thunder player to connect from the field. Cook canned a timely 3-pointer with 5:10 left in the period that cut the Sixers' lead to five after Philadelphia took its largest lead and was threatening to run away with the game.
“The way they pack the paint on you, it's rare you get an easy bucket,” said James Harden. “We needed to face a team like this. Now, going forward, we know how to approach a good defensive team.”
DURANT, TURNER GET DOUBLE TECHS
Kevin Durant and Sixers guard Evan Turner had a light shoving match that got each of them hit with a technical foul just before halftime.
The two then had to be separated after exchanging words near midcourt. It appeared Durant took exception to Turner swinging his arm as a shot went up. It looked as if Turner's hand caught Durant in the face. Durant, who after the game called the sequence “unnecessary,” then pushed Turner just as the two turned to go the other way.
Both began jawing at one another but order was restored rather quickly.
“Two of the nicest guys in the league, man,” a smiling Durant said. “Wasn't nothing going to happen.”
Sixers fans booed Durant throughout the rest of the game.
PERKINS PICKS UP ANOTHER TECH
With 4:22 remaining in the fourth quarter, Kendrick Perkins was whistled for a technical foul, putting him dangerously close to a suspension.
Unofficially, it was Perkins' 12th technical foul this season. Under league rules, a player draws an automatic one-game suspension following his 13th technical foul.
“We can't afford to lose any of our players,” Brooks said. “He knows he's flirting with that number. We have to play hard, and I like all of our guys to play with that type of passion. Kevin was feisty tonight. But we have to keep our composure.”
Perkins drew the technical foul when he gave a Sixers player a forearm shove just after the whistle.
Because of fuzzy bookkeeping on the league's official tracking log, however, it is unclear how many of Perkins' technical fouls have been rescinded.
The league reviews all technical fouls, and it's possible Perkins' most recent one gets rescinded.
IVEY PROVIDES SPARK
Reserve guard Royal Ivey continues finding ways to make an impact despite erratic playing time and minimal minutes.
On Wednesday, the third string guard netted five points with one rebound and one steal. But Brooks praised two plays Ivey made that came at big moments.
“He made two big plays that really sparked us,” Brooks said. “He hit a big 3 that we needed. And the play before that, Reggie (Jackson) made a nice finish at the basket and (Ivey) came and stole the outlet pass and made another bucket to cut it to four at 74-70. I thought those plays, and D.C.'s 3, were huge because we were going nowhere and it was going there pretty fast.
“But he kept the scoreboard moving with those plays, and it gave us a chance, gave us hope going into the fourth.”
The Sixers played a video tribute to former Sixer and current Thunder assistant Maurice Cheeks during a second-quarter timeout. Cheeks tried to avoid the footage and the nearby cameraman by ducking into the huddle. Brooks, however, gave chase and pulled Cheeks out and the entire team began watching. The Wells Fargo Center crowd then gave Cheeks a standing ovation when he was shown on the big screen … During a timeout with 8:59 left to play, Thunder reserves Cole Aldrich and Ryan Reid were shown on the Kiss Cam. Reid waved to the camera … The Thunder finished the month of February at 12-3 … OKC has now won six straight games. The team's longest winning streak this season is seven … The Thunder is now 7-1 against the East … Thursday's game between the Thunder and Magic will be broadcast nationally on TNT. Marv Albert, Steve Kerr and Mike Fratello will call the game, with Craig Sager serving as the sideline reporter.
Thunder at Magic
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Amway Center
TV: TNT (Cox 31, HD Ch. 730)
Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM
Three things to know
* This is the second and final meeting between the two teams. The Thunder defeated the Magic 97-89 inside Chesapeake Energy Arena on Dec. 25.
* The Thunder was 6-1 against Eastern Conference teams entering Wednesday's game at Philadelphia.
* Magic center Dwight Howard leads the league in rebounding at 15.3 per game. Howard scored 11 points with 15 rebounds against the Thunder in the season opener on Christmas night.
Pos.; Player; Ht.; Pts.; Reb.; Ast.
G; Russell Westbrook; 6-3; 23.5; 4.8; 5.5
G; Daequan Cook; 6-5; 6.0; 2.7; 0.3
F; Kevin Durant; 6-9; 27.9; 8.1; 3.4
F; Serge Ibaka; 6-10; 8.2; 7.7; 0.5
C; Kendrick Perkins; 6-10; 4.4; 6.1; 0.9
Pos.; Player; Ht.; Pts.; Reb.; Ast.
G; Jameer Nelson; 6-0; 9.3; 2.8; 5.3
G; Jason Richardson; 6-6; 12.0; 3.3; 2.1
F; Hedo Turkoglu; 6-10; 11.5; 3.7; 4.5
F; Ryan Anderson; 6-10; 16.1; 7.3; 0.9
C; Dwight Howard; 6-11; 20.1; 15.3; 2.1
* Stats and records are through Tuesday's games.