OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Sixers prepared for a basketball game against the Thunder. They got a lot more than that on Wednesday.
"I can say it was like a bar fight but they were the only guys in that bar who really destroyed us," Dario Saric said.
The Thunder steamrolled the Sixers, 122-97 (see Instant Replay). Oklahoma City shot 54.5 percent, outrebounded the Sixers 54 to a season-low 25, and scored a massive 76 points in the paint. That's without getting into Russell Westbrook's 18-point, 14-assist, 11-rebound triple-double (notched in three quarters) and Enes Kanter's 24-point, 11-rebound double-double (see feature highlight).
All that amounts to ...
"Today, they just simply killed us," Saric said.
Westbrook led the charge with his 35th triple-double of the season. He is now six from tying Oscar Robertson for most in a single season (41) and also six from tying Wilt Chamberlain for most all-time in the NBA (78).
Westbrook accomplished his feat while taking just six shots (6 for 6 from the field and 6 for 6 from the free throw line). Per Elias Sports Bureau, he became the first player to record a triple-double while being perfect from the field and the charity stripe.
"He averages a triple-double for Christ's sake, so it's tough for us to stop him," T.J. McConnell said.
This game was live demonstration of natural-born intensity that comes from within and cannot be taught in film sessions or drills. The Thunder rode the momentum of MVP-candidate Westbrook's triple-double and it spilled over to the entire team.
Kanter posted his double-double in just 20 minutes off the bench. Four Thunder players scored in double digits while the reserves combined for 63 points. Top to bottom, every player on the active roster fought.
"We have to have that killer instinct," Westbrook said. "We have to be able to come out when you're up 12 or 14 and be able to push it to 20 to 22, especially at home. To be a good team, you need to be able to do this consistently."
Everyone that steps on the court against the Thunder, whether a lottery-bound team or a title contender, represents an opponent standing in the way of the their postseason aspirations as they hold down the sixth spot in the Western Conference. The Thunder's motivation was clear with less than a month left in the regular season.
"It's a fantastic example for our young guys on the physicality of playoff-type teams," Brett Brown said. "That side of it stood out to me more than it has in a long time. You look at (Steven) Adams and you look at Kanter and you look at Taj Gibson and you look at the discrepancy on the boards, the rebounding differential, and it felt that. It's just a reminder, if you want to play late in April and May, maybe June one day, that's the physicality the playoffs bring."
For the Thunder, this is one win closer to the postseason. For the Sixers, it is an example of grit they can follow to improve, and how many steps they have to take to get there.
"They are a good team, playoff team. We need to get a lot of experience from this," Saric said. "They are really tough, big, strong, and they have Russell, who will probably be MVP of the league. Then you put everything in one team, it's maybe too big for us in this moment."