Shorthanded Thunder slam CelticsBy MIKE SHALIN
The Sports Xchange
January 24. 2014 10:44PM
BOSTON — No Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook? No problem for the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.
With Durant, who is leading the NBA in scoring at 31 points per game, nursing a bruised right shoulder and Westbrook out after knee surgery, the Thunder flashed the rest of their weapons and cruised to a 101-83 victory over the Boston Celtics.
The win was the sixth straight and seventh in the last eight games for the Thunder (34-10).
Without power forward Durant and point guard Westbrook, the Thunder were missing a combined 52.3 points, 13.7 rebounds and 12.1 assists per game. Westbrook hasn’t played since Christmas Day.
But forward Serge Ibaka had 21 points and seven rebounds and swingman Jeremy Lamb came off the bench with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists to lead OKC. Guard Reggie Jackson, who runs the offense with Westbrook out, had 14 points and eight assists.
The Celtics, also shorthanded with guards Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless out, have lost 16 of their last 19 games.
Celtics forward Jared Sullinger suffered a dislocated right index finger in the first half but returned in the second quarter. He played 23 minutes.
Forward Jeff Green, coming off a 39-point game at Washington on Wednesday, led the Celtics with 16 points, while swingman Gerald Wallace had 13.
Point guard Rajon Rondo, playing the fourth of the five games since his return from knee surgery and still playing five-minute shifts, had five points and eight assists in 22 minutes.
The Celtics had assists on their first nine baskets, the first four going to Rondo. That helped Boston grab an early lead that reached five points early in the second quarter.
The home team was up by three when the Thunder used an 8-0 run to take the lead for good. OKC was up by as many as nine but the Celtics battled back and trailed by four at the half.
In the blink of a second-half eye, the game was gone. A 27-9 third-quarter run, which included six straight points by Ibaka in a 13-0 spurt, grew the lead to 20.Notes: Thunder forward Kevin Durant was averaging 38.1 points in the last 11 games and had scored 30 or more in each of the last nine. “He might be the best scorer in the world right now,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before the game, and before official word came from Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks that Durant was out and is day to day with a bruised right shoulder. The Thunder visit Philadelphia tonight. “It’s the best thing for him,” Brooks said, noting his star always wants to play. Durant started his 30-point streak after scoring 21 against the Celtics on Jan. 5. Thunder forward Perry Jones made his second start of the season and the third of his two-year pro career. ... The Celtics, who host the Brooklyn Nets and former Boston stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett (and Jason Terry), on Sunday night, were without guards Avery Bradley (ankle) and Jerryd Bayless (toe). ... Celtics guard Rajon Rondo on preliminary contract extension talks with the team: “I wouldn’t mind staying here the rest of my career.”