Published January 25, 2014
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma City Thunder proved they could win without their superstars, but hope to get Kevin Durant back in the lineup Saturday against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center.
Durant missed Friday's win at Boston with a sore right shooting shoulder, probably because he's been on a tear lately. Durant, who's averaging an NBA- best 31.0 points per game, has scored 30 or more points in each of his last nine games, posting an average of 33.6 ppg in that impressive stretch.
He has reached the 36-point mark on five separate occasions during the run and is averaging an even better 38.1 ppg and shooting 52.0 percent from the field in the previous 11 contests. Durant has scored 45-plus points on four occasions this month. Kobe Bryant did it five times in a month back in 2005-06 and 2006-07.
The Thunder, already without Russell Westbrook (knee), played well without the All-Star Durant against the Celtics, posting a 101-83 victory behind Serge Ibaka's 21 points. Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson scored 19 and 14 points, respectively, for Oklahoma City, which has won six in a row.
"Going into the game I knew they were going to accept the challenge," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said of his players stepping up. "One of the things about our team, we play hard every night. We take pride in playing hard no matter who's on the floor."
Brooks said the team will see how Durant feels Saturday morning to determine his playing status against the Sixers.
Perry Jones made his third career start in Durant's place and scored 10 points for the Thunder, who shot 53.8 percent, have won three straight on the road and are 15-7 away from the OKC this season. The Thunder will close this three- game trek Saturday and are tied with Indiana for the most wins (34).
Philadelphia opened a three-game homestand with Friday's 104-95 loss to the Toronto Raptors, as rookie Michael Carter-Williams led the way with 20 points and Thaddeus Young chipped in 16.
Hollis Thompson and Spencer Hawes finished with 15 and 14 points, respectively, for the Sixers, who failed to build on a win at New York and lost for the eighth time in 10 tries.
"I thought at the end of the third period and the start of the fourth we weren't able to hold the fort. They came in and guarded the heck out of us," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "I always thought they were a good defensive team, when you have to play against them it sticks out even more."
Hawes also grabbed 12 rebounds for the 76ers. Sixers guard Tony Wroten missed his third straight game with a right ankle sprain and is questionable Saturday.
Philadelphia is 8-13 at home and will wrap up the stay Monday versus Phoenix.
The 76ers and Thunder are meeting for the first time since OKC swept last season's two-game series. The Thunder have won eight in a row overall against Philly and their last four visits to the City of Brotherly Love.