Thunder dispatch Heat as Durant and Ibaka do the damage.
There were 10 games on the NBA schedule on Wednesday night, with the highlight match-up coming from Miami where the Heat faced the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Despite being down by 18 points through the opening quarter after a slow start, Kevin Durant and the Thunder turned things into a rout as he remained hot with another 33-point showing.
Serge Ibaka added 22 points as the visitors ultimately embarrassed the Miami Heat in a 112-95 win, which only further strengthened Durant’s claim for the MVP title this year.
Despite the on-going absence of point guard Russell Westbrook, the Thunder (37-10) have roared their way to top spot in the Western Conference, and with Durant in such scintillating form, it is difficult to see how they can be stopped.
“They were ready for us to come in and play,” Durant said, according to ESPN.
“They hit some tough shots early on, a few 3’s, and we didn’t panic. We just tried to stay together and that’s what we did. Our bench was great in getting us back in that game.”
Durant has now scored 30 points or more in his last 12 games, whilst inching the Thunder towards the best record in the league as they stretch their winning streak to nine games.
LeBron James responded with 34 points while Chris Bosh had 18 and Dwyane Wade added 15 for the hosts.
Elsewhere, a short-handed San Antonio Spurs were unable to avoid a home defeat to the Chicago Bulls, who were led by 10 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists from Joakim Noah.
Tony Parker (20 points) and Tim Duncan had 17 points and 12 rebounds, but without Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Thiago Splitter, the Spurs looked out of sorts and out of depth.
However, coach Gregg Popovich was keen to avoid making any excuses and insisted that his team didn’t do enough with what they had to win on the night.
“It doesn’t matter who’s hurt, or what your schedule is, or anything like that. You go play. Nobody cares. All that matters is the win or the loss. We lost our defensive consistency and they went up.”
Chicago had seven players score in double figures, with Jimmy Butler (19 points) perhaps the pick of the bunch although there were strong showings from Carlos Boozer and D.J. Augustin too.
Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets were able to overcome the Dallas Mavericks despite the absence of the injured James Harden, with Chandler Parsons (26 points) doing enough to stop Dirk Nowitzki who had 38 points and 17 rebounds.
There was also a 30-point night for Kevin Love as he added 14 rebounds to his game’s work in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ win over the New Orleans Pelicans, while the Toronto Raptors, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers were all winners on Wednesday night too.
Notable performers included Kyle Lowry (33 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds), Goran Dragic (30 points) and Blake Griffin (29 points, 9 rebounds) while Evan Turner was the hero again for Philadelphia with his last gasp game-winning shot over the Boston Celtics.
Oklahoma City Thunder 112-95 Miami Heat
Orlando Magic 83-98 Toronto Raptors
Philadelphia 76ers 95-94 Boston Celtics
Phoenix Suns 126-117 Milwaukee Bucks
New Orleans Pelicans 77-88 Minnesota Timberwolves
Houston Rockets 117-115 Dallas Mavericks
Charlotte Bobcats 101-98 Denver Nuggets
Chicago Bulls 96-86 San Antonio Spurs
Memphis Grizzlies 99-89 Sacramento Kings
Washington Wizards 103-110 Los Angeles Clippers
Detroit Pistons PST-PST Atlanta Hawks