No Westbrook, no problem for the Thunder with second win without point guard.
There were just five games on the NBA schedule on Sunday night, but there was still the Houston Rockets’ clash with the Oklahoma City Thunder in a battle in the Western Conference.
While Russell Westbrook’s absence will inevitably be felt at some such stage during his injury lay-off, the Thunder made short work of the Rockets on Sunday night with a 117-86 win.
Kevin Durant had 33 points, 13 rebounds and five assists as Oklahoma City won their second straight game without their point guard, and with Durant involving the entire roster they look in good shape to maintain a strong position as they await Westbrook’s return.
Jeremy Lamb had a career-high 22 points, while Reggie Jackson had 16 points and eight assists as the Thunder move to the NBA’s best record at 25-5 having now won 12 of their last 13 and 20 of their last 22 games.
“It’s still tough not having him here, but we know what we have to do now,” Durant told reporters after the game.
“We learned from our mistakes last time. Hopefully we just keep getting better and when he comes back it’s kind of a seamless transition for us.”
The Thunder were also effective on the defensive end, holding James Harden to 8 points while Dwight Howard had just nine points and nine rebounds.
Elsewhere, the Golden State Warriors overcame the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime, while the Philadelphia 76ers won in Los Angeles against the Lakers to end a 13-game losing streak on the road.
The San Antonio Spurs were also in winning form on Sunday, with their big three powering them to victory over the Sacramento Kings.
Manu Ginobili scored 28 points, Tony Parker added 22 and Tim Duncan had 17 points and 13 rebounds to lead them to a 112-104 win.
“So we’ve been playing bad the whole season. That’s what you’re trying to say? The starting five, we (stink)?” Parker said, playing along. “(The bench has) been playing great; they’ve been giving us a lot of energy.”
Ginobili, Parker and Duncan combined to score the final 21 points in a 23-8 run to close the game, while DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points and 14 rebounds for the Kings who admitted after the game that the experience of their opponents eventually came to the fore.
The Spurs move to 24-7 for the season, and remain in third spot in the Western Conference as they continue to trail the Thunder by one game. Nevertheless, with their defeats generally coming against their direct rivals in the West, coach Gregg Popovich will be wanting to see more from his entire team moving forward.
Golden State Warriors 108-104 Cleveland Cavaliers
Atlanta Hawks 102-109 Orlando Magic
Houston Rockets 86-117 Oklahoma City Thunder
Sacramento Kings 104-112 San Antonio Spurs
Philadelphia 76ers 111-104 Los Angeles Lakers