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.