OKLAHOMA CITY -- It was one of those games in which you didn’t need to study the stat sheet to see how lopsided things turned out to be in the end.
All you had to do was watch Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go about their jobs when the Oklahoma City Thunder played host to the Sixers on Tuesday night.
The All-Star duo displayed its usual fiery competitiveness and made a dominating effort look relatively easy. The numbers on the stat sheet just backed up the visual.
Durant scored 42 points and Westbrook notched a triple-double in the Thunder’s 125-92 win over the Sixers (see Instant Replay). The loss was the Sixers’ 15th in a row, tying the second-worst skid in franchise history.
Right from the opening tip, it was clear that one team is a legitimate championship contender and the other could not be any further away from that distinction.
“Kevin was Kevin, and they are so tough at home,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “And Westbrook is physically so gifted. He is so competitive. He’s an angry competitor that wills himself to do stuff, and I say that with the utmost respect.”
Westbrook put up 13 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds in the game in just 20:17 minutes of action. The point guard became only the second player in NBA history to post a triple-double in less than 20:30 playing time, joining Jim Tucker’s effort in 1955.
The Sixers were shaken by more than just Westbrook’s stellar performance. His constant chatter seemed to get the better of rookie Michael Carter-Williams.
Carter-Williams finished with 14 points, seven of those coming in the fourth quarter when the Sixers trailed by as many as 37. MCW also had four rebounds and five assists.
However, watching the high-energy Westbrook take advantage of the Sixers made Carter-Williams want to raise his own game to that level.
“That is just Russell,” Carter-Williams said of Westbrook’s talking. “I think the guys all know that’s the way he is and that’s the way he plays, with a lot of intensity and emotion.
“I don’t think it took me out of my game at all. It just makes me want to play harder, still stay in my game, but use it as motivation.”
The Sixers kept themselves within striking distance early, mainly thanks to guard James Anderson. The Oklahoma State product was strong in his return to his old stomping grounds. He scored 20 points on 7 of 16 shooting, including 6 for 12 from three-point range.
That didn’t prevent the Sixers from eventually falling behind, 37-23, in the first quarter. That was all the cushion the Thunder needed.
The Sixers couldn’t make up ground in bunches with no player outside of Anderson able to make any shots from long range. The Sixers shot 10 of 30 overall from beyond the arc.
When the Sixers did venture inside, the Thunder were waiting. The league’s second-best team in blocked shots swatted 10 on the night.
“I encourage and we will continue to develop that attack mentality,” Brown said. “But now what do you do with that? We have so much further to go. Michael as a point guard, us as a team, to use that environment responsibly and we didn’t at times.”
The Sixers did do some nice things in the game. They forced 22 turnovers that led to 25 points. They also got solid minutes from newcomers Jarvis Varnado (six points, six rebounds) and Byron Mullens (season-high 15 points, six rebounds).
That’s the difference between these two teams at the moment. The Sixers are getting slight contributions from marginal NBA players, while the Thunder are receiving mammoth games from league superstars.
You don’t have to look at the stat sheet to see that.