Now that the Thunder can breathe, maybe they’ll be able to rest.
Oklahoma City gave up a 14-0 run and nearly all of its 15-point fourth-quarter lead, but in the end they gained a game on the Clippers in the standings.
Oklahoma City moved 2.5 games ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers with a 107-101 victory in Los Angeles.
And now with just four games to go, OKC can start concerning itself with other things – like getting used to each other again.
For the first since Christmas Day, Oklahoma City started the lineup that got to the NBA Finals two seasons ago and had them playing the best basketball in the league. And in the final four games left on the schedule, three of which will come against teams not going to the playoffs, OKC won’t have the pressure of losing a spot in the standings while working its regulars back into the lineup.
While the Thunder aren’t mathematically eliminated from the top seed, it’s highly unlikely. Meanwhile,the Thunder’s magic number for clinching the No. 2 see is at two.
Kevin Durant was just 8-of-26 shooting, grinding his way to 27 points, and the Thunder were playing on back-to-back nights, but they played their best defense in more than a month, holding the Clippers to just 41 shooting. Naturally, it had something to do with Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha being in the lineup.
Sefolosha played 24 minutes and Perkins played 22 and Russell Westbrook remains on a somewhat of a minutes restriction, getting 30, but remember, this was the bunch that won 60 games a season ago.
This is also the group that was at the top of the Western Conference for much of this season.
And just like it’s been when the Thunder have been at the their best, Westbrook and Durant managed – one more time –to get the team a win.
Westbrook ended up with 30 points, but it was his put-back slam that put the Thunder up four with 2:01 to go that provided some space. The two combined for the final eight points for OKC.
The Thunder are home against New Orleans on Friday and still have road games left against New Orleans and the Pacers before finishing up at home against Detroit.