OKC Thunder beats Celtics for 11th straight home victory

Kevin Garnett returned after a two-game absence, but it wasn't even to stop the Thunder, with Russell Westbrook scoring 31 points and Kevin Durant adding 28.
BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Published: February 22, 2012

Scott Brooks called it beautiful basketball.

Well, the first half anyway.

But really, aside from aesthetics, that was the only half that mattered.

The Thunder did enough in the first 24 minutes Wednesday night to cruise to a 119-104 victory over Boston inside Chesapeake Energy Arena and move to 26-7 with one game remaining before this weekend's All-Star break.

Of course, as most Thunder opponents have done this season, the Celtics made things interesting by putting together a late push and chipping away at a deficit that grew to be as large as 27. But once the Thunder regained its composure, it closed the game on an 11-2 run to notch its 11th straight home win.

“We knew going into this game, and even when we had the big lead, that they were not going to sit down and just watch the game go by. They were going to compete,” Brooks said. A banged-up but prideful Celtics bunch put up as much of a fight as it could despite playing without floor general Rajon Rondo, who was serving the second of a two-game suspension. Boson also was without Jermaine O'Neal (wrist), Brandon Bass (knee) and Chris Wilcox (abductor).

Yet for the first seven minutes, the Celtics were actually competitive. The Celtics took a 22-12 lead before the Thunder turned it on and assembled the most impressive run seen this season. Oklahoma City peeled off a 30-3 run that lasted from the 5:07 mark of the first quarter until the 10:13 mark of the second period.

Six players scored during the run, led by Daequan Cook's nine points, six coming off a pair of 3-pointers and the other three on foul shots after getting hit on another 3-point try. James Harden had seven points in the run, Russell Westbrook scored six, Nazr Mohammed added four and Kevin Durant and Royal Ivey each chipped in a bucket.

The Thunder assisted each other on five of the 10 made field goals during the run, highlighting a 22-assists night in which 14 came in the first half. More impressively, the Thunder committed a season-low two turnovers in those first 24 minutes.

“Tonight, we were moving the ball,” Brooks said. “We were running the court. We were playing with a good pace and taking care of the basketball. It was beautiful basketball in the first half.” Ivey stopped short of settling on his coach's description.



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