Thunder hand Sixers their 15th straight loss

Michael Carter-Williams of the Sixers fights for a rebound with Russell Westbrook.
Michael Carter-Williams of the Sixers fights for a rebound with Russell Westbrook. (USA Today)
Posted: March 06, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY - The spotlight was on Kevin Durant.

It had to do with his friendly rivalry with LeBron James, and his Oklahoma City Thunder squad hosting the struggling 76ers. Folks wanted to know if the 6-foot-9 swingman would try to top the 61-point performance that James produced Monday night.

Luckily for the Sixers, he didn't try to. But in the end, it didn't matter.

Durant scored 42 points as the Thunder rolled to a 125-92 victory Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The loss dropped the Sixers to 15-46 and extended their losing streak to 15 games. The Western Conference-leading Thunder (46-15) won their third straight.

An inability to stop Durant was part of the Sixers' problem.

It wasn't quite the dominant performance that James produced in a lopsided victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. But it was just enough for people to remember why Durant - not James - is the front-runner for MVP.

Layups, three-pointers, foul shots - the seven-year veteran did whatever he wanted against the Sixers before sitting out the fourth quarter. Durant scored 21 of his points in the first half.

He shot 14 of 20 from the field and finished with nine rebounds and three assists while being content to play with the flow of the game. Tuesday was his 26th consecutive game with at least 25 points.

"He takes that size and he has his unselfish mentality and he finds a way to include others," Sixers coach Brett Brown said of Durant. "That's one of the most impressive things in my opinion of him as a superstar, which he is."

Four of Oklahoma City's starters were 6-foot-9 or taller. Perry Jones, a 6-11 second-year player, started at shooting guard.

In addition to a height advantage, the Thunder were more athletic and simply a lot better than the tanking Sixers.

Russell Westbrook had a triple-double with 13 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds to go with three steals. The standout point guard was also constantly jawing with Sixers rookie Michael Carter-Williams, who struggled (4-for-12 shooting, 14 points). Power forward Serge Ibaka added 14 points and three blocked shots for the Thunder. Like Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka sat out the fourth quarter.

James Anderson led the Sixers with 20 points. He made 6 of 12 threes.

Carter-Williams said he wasn't frustrated, but his actions told a different story in the fourth quarter. The rookie point guard fumed after Brown got on him for giving up an easy basket. He didn't appear happy while chatting with his coach moments later.

"So be it," Brown said. "The deal is you are going to guard. And you've got to keep the game in front of you. If we don't have that, we don't have much."

The coach added that his exchanges with Carter-Williams are just part of the teaching process.

Carter-Williams downplayed the incident and said that his exchanges with Westbrook did not take him out of his game.

"I don't think I lost my cool at all," he said. "I tried to stick to our offense, keep the tempo. I didn't try to force anything, really. . . . I didn't seem really flustered."


BY THE NUMBERS

15

76ers' losing streak.

20

Franchise record for losses in a row, set in 1973.

26

NBA record for consecutive losses, set by Cleveland in 2010-11.


kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

www.inquirer.com/deepsixer

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