Entering tonight’s match-up with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Sixers had lost 14 consecutive games, with very few of them of the close variety. Tonight was more of the same for the team with the second-worst record in the NBA. Oklahoma City defeated Philadelphia 125-92 and were able to rest their key players for the entirety of the fourth quarter.
OKC was dominant from the opening tip, jumping out to a 37-23 first quarter lead, and they never looked back. The Sixers were outscored in all four quarters, including by double digits in the first and fourth.
As usual, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook led the way for the Thunder. Durant managed to net 42 points in just three quarters, despite a lackluster night from the free-throw line in which he connected on just 12-of-18 of his attempts from the charity stripe. Durant also added 9 rebounds and 2 steals to his impressive night at the offensive end.
Westbrook played in just 20 minutes against Philadelphia, but in those minutes, he notched a triple-double. After 11 first half assists, Westbrook finished with 13 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds, becoming the second-fastest triple-double in NBA history since 1955.
For the Sixers, it was all about James Anderson, Byron Mullens, and the continued struggles of Michael Carter-Williams. Anderson finished with 20 points after a first half in which he netted 17 on five three-pointers. Mullens chipped in 15 points of his own after being held scoreless in the first half.
Carter-Williams is still unquestionably the favorite to win Rookie of the Year. However, he continues to be inconsistent shooting the ball, finishing at the rim, and struggles to protect the ball.
The most telling sign of the night was when Hasheem Thabeet, best used as a bench warmer for Durant, Westbrook, and company, caught a pass in the high post. Thabeet proceeded to fake a pass and then knock down a 17-footer for his third field goal of the night. Before tonight, Thabeet had played in just 11 contests and had never contributed more than one field goal on a given night.
1. James Anderson – 20 points, 7/16 shooting, 6/12 3-point shooting – B
While from the outset, it looks like Anderson had a great night, he was invisible in the second half. After exploding for 17 points on 5 triples in the first half, the Sixers’ shooting guard managed just 3 points in the entire second half.
2. Byron Mullens – 15 points, 5/9 shooting, 3/4 3-point shooting, 6 rebounds – B+
Mullens showed a lot of energy in the second half along with a soft touch from distance. He stretched the floor, kept plays alive, and cleaned up the glass at the defensive end. Also, he showed the ability to run the offense through him from the top of the key, similar to that of Spencer Hawes.
3. Michael Carter-Williams – 14 points, 4/12 shooting, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 turnovers – D+
Maybe I’m being hard on the rookie, but I expect better from a 6-foot-6 point guard with his skill set, even if he’s matched up against Russell Westbrook. With his size and length, he should be finishing at the rim at a much higher rate. Also, a 5:3 assist-to-turnover ratio just isn’t cutting it.