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OKC Thunder beats Boston without Kevin Durant

BY ANTHONY SLATER, Staff Writer, aslater@opubco.com Published: January 24, 2014
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photo - Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins, center, is sandwiched between Boston Celtics center Jared Sullinger (7) and forward Gerald Wallace on a drive to the basket during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins, center, is sandwiched between Boston Celtics center Jared Sullinger (7) and forward Gerald Wallace on a drive to the basket during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Thabo Sefolosha scored 13 points during a perfect 6-of-6 night from the field. Perry Jones added 10 on 4-of-6 shooting in a spot start. Overall, the Thunder shot a blistering 54 percent. And the defense held Boston to 81 points on 43 percent shooting.

But perhaps most impressive was Jeremy Lamb. Off the bench, he had one of his better games as a pro. In nearly 30 minutes, Lamb put up 19 points on 9-of-17 shooting, while also chipping in six rebounds and three assists.

“We didn’t play Lamb well enough the whole night,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “He’s a really, really good basketball player.”

And on Friday, the Thunder proved it remains an effective team, even without its feature guys.

Durant should return soon, maybe even on Saturday in Philadelphia, and Westbrook will likely not be far behind. OKC’s championship hopes rest on their shoulders.

But for one night in late January, maybe this was for the better. Maybe it was good for some of the team’s lesser, but still vital pieces to get a showcase opportunity. To gain some self-confidence and inspire some outside confidence.

“Absolutely,” Kendrick Perkins said, when presented with that possibility. “It was good for our young guys.”

“Yes, (it was exciting),” Sefolosha said. “But at the same time, we want the team to be at full force out there.”

No doubt about that. But it’s not like it mattered on this night.