Kevin Durant is in the midst of a record-setting run, but the Oklahoma City Thunder proved in their latest victory they’re more than just the NBA’s leading scorer.
A day after the Thunder rolled while their superstar rested with a shoulder injury, Durant is questionable Saturday night in Philadelphia as Oklahoma City faces the 76ers looking for its seventh straight win.
Durant is averaging 39.8 points on 58.3 percent shooting over his last six games, but his teammates had no problems without him in Friday’s 101-83 win at Boston. Serge Ibaka had a game-high 21 points and Jeremy Lamb added 19 in a season-high 30 minutes Durant watching from the bench.
It was the first game since the also-injured Russell Westbrook came into the league that the Thunder (34-10) played without both he and Durant.
”We take pride in playing hard no matter who’s on the floor,” coach Scott Brooks said. ”Obviously, we’re a better team with Kevin and Russell. But it doesn’t make us not a team.”
Durant participated in Friday morning’s shootaround before Brooks declared him out, and he’s listed as day-to-day with what’s not expected to be a long-term injury.
”He’s not one that looks forward to missing games,” Brooks said. ”But it’s the best thing for him. Until he’s ready to play, he’s not going to play. Regardless of how he feels and what he wants to do."
As for whether he’ll play Saturday?
”We’ll see how he wakes up," Brooks said.
Whenever Durant does return, he’ll try to become just the sixth player since 1990 to score at least 30 in 10 consecutive games, following Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady.
Should he suit up against Philadelphia, he figures to have an excellent chance at joining that club. The 76ers allow an NBA-high 109.8 points per game.
"Who’s got Durant (Saturday night)? Who’s got the elite player… if Kevin plays," coach Brett Brown said. "Somebody like that has that bounce, that athleticism and he’s in a groove. How are we going to guard him?"
Lately, though, it’s been Philadelphia’s offense that’s been the issue. The Sixers have only allowed 102.1 points per game in their last seven, but they’ve averaged just 93.6 points in that 2-5 stretch.
Philadelphia (14-29) shot 6 of 20 from the field in the fourth quarter Friday against Toronto, falling 104-95.
"We had a hard time making some shots," Brown said. "But we lost to a good team, we give them credit."
The Thunder, who will be playing the final game of a three-game road trip, are 12-2 against the Eastern Conference this season.
They’ve been at their best against the East over the last year on the road. Oklahoma City has won 11 straight interconference games away from home by an average of 13.1 points since losing at Cleveland on Feb. 2.
The Thunder, who will be going for their third win streak of seven or more games this season, have defeated the 76ers in eight consecutive meetings.
Two of the last three in Philadelphia have gone to overtime. Durant had seven of his 37 in the extra five minutes in Oklahoma City’s last visit to Wells Fargo Center, a 116-109 victory on Nov. 24, 2012.