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OKC Thunder runs past Bobcats

By John Rohde Published: March 8, 2013

— Perhaps the Thunder’s second unit has been examined in the wrong light.

Rather than asking how many points OKC reserves can offer, the focus should be on what the second unit brings defensively.

This certainly came to light during a 21-0 run in against the Charlotte Bobcats before a crowd of 18,870 at Time Warner Cable Arena on Friday night.

Thunder reserves scored the first 19 points of the second quarter (and the last two points of the first quarter), leading to a methodical 116-94 victory during which OKC starting five was able to rest on the bench the entire fourth quarter.

The victory was the Thunder’s fourth straight and seventh in its last eight starts. It came the night after a 95-94 survival against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, after which OKC arrived in Charlotte at approximately 3:15 a.m.

“As a team, it was important for our second group to come out and be effective tonight,” said recently acquired 38-year-old reserve guard Derek Fisher, who shot 5 for 6 from the field and had 13 points, three rebounds and three assists in just 14 minutes. “Last night, we got a tough win and got in late, so these are the types of team wins that you have to have. I thought everybody in the second group was ready to play when they got on the floor.”

As for the woeful Bobcats, perhaps the Thunder is partially to blame for their abysmal season.

Charlotte had a 7-5 record when it visited Chesapeake Energy Arena on Nov. 26, when OKC delivered at 114-69 thrashing.

The Bobcats have gone 6-43 (.122) since that night. Friday was their ninth straight loss and 17th in the last 19 games.

“At one point in the second quarter, we looked up and we were down 18,” said guard Gerald Henderson, who led Charlotte with 21 points, five rebounds and five assists. “We just couldn’t stop them from scoring. That’s a well-oiled machine there.”

OKC actually started out a bit sluggish, likely fatigued from the previous night’s work, but quickly pulled away thanks to a second unit that has been scrutinized since the departure of NBA Sixth Man of the Year James Harden.

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