Thunder, without Kevin Durant, holds off Boston Celtics

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: November 20, 2010 at 10:22 am •  Published: November 19, 2010
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BOSTON — An hour before his Boston Celtics took the court against a Thunder team down two starters, one of whom happened to be the league's leading scorer, Doc Rivers was asked if he had to remind his players how good Oklahoma City is even without its star.

“If I don't, they will,” said Rivers, without hesitation, of the Thunder. “They'll know pretty quickly.”

The Celtics coach continued, his next sentence foreshadowing what soon led to his team's downfall.

“If you have to remind your guys to be ready to play, then you've probably got more issues than you need — at least on that given night,” Rivers said.

As fate would have it, the injury-ravaged Thunder would give Boston plenty of problems Friday night, eventually stunning the star-studded Celtics 89-84, before a sold out crowd of 18,624 inside TD Garden.

Oklahoma City did it without Kevin Durant, who missed his first game of the year due to a sprained left ankle, and forward Jeff Green, who sat out his sixth game in the past seven contests because of the same injury.

In their absence, Russell Westbrook led a balanced and brilliant charge, racking up 31 points, six rebounds and four assists as the Thunder became the first team to beat the Celtics at home.

“Everybody stepped up,” Westbrook said. “That's kind of how it's going to have to be. Guys are down. Other guys are going to have to come in and be ready to play.”

The Celtics looked lethargic from the start, turning the ball over on their first four possessions and seemingly thinking they could sleepwalk their way to a victory. But by the time Boston tried to turn it on, it was the Thunder that was in cruise control. OKC never trailed in the second half and took the lead for good on a Nick Collison layup with 6:52 remaining in the second quarter.

By design, the Thunder, which typically likes to push the pace, slowed the game's tempo. On several possessions, Thunder coach Scott Brooks was seen extending an open palm to instruct Westbrook to be patient as he brought the ball up the court. Westbrook then imitated that same open palm to his teammates, patting down on the air to settle the game's speed.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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