It doesn’t take long for an NBA title contender to impose its will on an opponent. The Boston Celtics found that out firsthand during the third quarter of Sunday night’s matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Oklahoma City is undoubtedly one of the favorites to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals this season. The Celtics hung around with the Thunder during the first half, keeping the game very close for the majority of the first two quarters. However, when the Thunder took the court in the third quarter, they were on a mission to blow this game open.
Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Kevin Durant teamed up to score the first six points of the third quarter on baskets that were scored within 10 feet of the hoop. Perkins put in a layup, Ibaka dunked one home, and Durant nailed an eight-foot jumper.
That quick 6-0 spurt by the Thunder gave the home team a 16-point advantage just 88 seconds into the second half. As former Celtics center Kendrick Perkins revealed after the game, Oklahoma City made it a point to come out with such a run to begin the third quarter.
“We said at halftime that we wanted to come out in the third and put the game away,” Perkins said, “and I thought we did a good job in the first two minutes.”
Despite comfortably being on top of the Celtics, the Thunder weren’t done. A few minutes later, Oklahoma City used a 10-0 run to balloon its lead all the way up to 21 points. Boston competed throughout the remainder of the game, but it was not able to overcome those knockout punches from one of the league’s top title contenders.
Key Box Score Line
One would assume that the Thunder are a much worse team without their injured All-Star point guard, Russell Westbrook. Reggie Jackson disagrees.
Jackson, a former star guard at Boston College, dominated Sunday night’s matchup against the Celtics. He scored a game-high 27 points in less than 31 minutes of action. Boston was unable to slow the youngster down from anywhere on the floor, as he canned all three of his 3-pointers, shot 6-of-9 from inside the arc, and also got to the free-throw line for nine attempts. In comparison, no player on the Celtics attempted more than six free throws.
Jackson’s standout performance powered Oklahoma City to a 119-point outburst, which is the most points any team has scored against Boston this season. The Thunder outscored the Celtics by 18 points while Jackson was on the floor.
Box Score Nuggets
- Oklahoma City scored 50 points in the paint to Boston's 34.
- The Thunder's 119 points were the most the Celtics have allowed all season.
- Four Celtics scored at least 14 points, led by 19 apiece from Jeff Green and Avery Bradley.
- Each team totaled at least 23 assists in the game.
- Two Thunder players (Reggie Jackson and Kevin Durant) scored at least 20 points, while no Celtics reached that feat.
- Jackson scored a game-high 27 points.
- Oklahoma City made as many free throws as Boston attempted.
- Kris Humphries scored 14 points and blocked three shots off of the bench.
- The Celtics committed 26 fouls to the Thunder's 16.
- Durant flirted with a triple-double with his 21 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.
- Boston's 18 points in the fourth quarter was the only instance in which either team did not score at least 22 points in a period.
- Serge Ibaka tallied the game's only double-double with 17 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
- Boston shot just 1-of-10 on second-chance opportunities.
- No player on Oklahoma City's roster attempted more than 13 shots, while four Celtics attempted at least 14.
- Jordan Crawford led the Celtics with seven assists.
Quote of the Night
One of the things we've got to do as a group is when things don't go well, we need to collect ourselves quicker and make things go in our favor again. Brad Stevens on the Celtics dealing with adversity during gamesMore quotes >>