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Defense does its job as Thunder beats Pacers

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: March 2, 2011 at 9:27 pm •  Published: March 2, 2011

By no means can definitive conclusions be drawn off one performance. But, if only for one night, the Oklahoma City Thunder, playing with as close to its full complement of players as it's had in a week, confirmed that the countless concerns that have somehow come into focus following last week's pair of trades might be a tad overstated.

In a 113-89 wire-to-wire win over Indiana on Wednesday, the Thunder laid to rest questions about whether it now has an ordinary offense after the departure of Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.

Reserve guard James Harden scored 17 of his 20 points in the first half, carving the Pacers with a steady dose of hard drives and backdoor cuts, to show there's still plenty of firepower off the bench.

Daequan Cook washed away worries that no true backup for Kevin Durant would be troublesome, as Cook canned four of seven 3-pointers for all 12 of his points.

And the biggest question of all, of course, was how newcomers Nazr Mohammed and Nate Robinson would fit in. All Mohammed did was seamlessly join the starting lineup and provide nearly perfect defense on Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who toyed with the Thunder to the tune of 19 points and 10 rebounds in the team's last meeting but was limited to nine points on 3-for-7 shooting with 12 boards Wednesday. Robinson, meanwhile, showed in limited minutes he definitely has what it takes to be a spark plug.

“I was curious, but I was also confident that we could get it done,” Durant said.

For now, the lone lingering question about the Thunder is whether Durant, who sprained his left ankle midway through the third period, will be available for Friday's game at Atlanta.

Everything else, the Thunder had an emphatic answer for.

Oklahoma City led by as many as 35 points, its largest lead of the year, and had three players score at least 20 points. The offensive explosion quickly erased the memory of the 88-point stinker at Orlando and the 87-point performance against the L. Wednesday's box score

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