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Shorthanded Thunder Rolls Past Celtics

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BOSTON, Massachusetts -

Friday's game in Boston featured a Thunder lineup without Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant for the first time since, well, before they were the Thunder.

The last time at least one of the all-stars wasn't on the floor for the organization was Feb. 19, 2008 in Durant's rookie campaign. The team still called Seattle home, Westbrook was playing for UCLA, and the Sonics beat Memphis by seven behind Earl Watson's 26-point, nine-assist outing.

Suffice to say, it's been a while.

But even with the stars relegated to cheerleader duty because of lingering injuries, the Celtics didn't have what it took to derail Oklahoma City's winning ways. And the Thunder didn't just win, it rolled to its sixth-straight victory.

OKC turned in a stellar team performance and a dominant third quarter to storm past Boston 101-83 at the TD Garden.

The Celtics (15-30) led 28-27 after the first quarter thanks in large part to a torrid 73 percent shooting clip, but the Thunder defense clamped down and the shots stopped falling, as Boston shot just 35 percent the rest of the way. Oklahoma City (34-10) had not such issue, shooting 53.8 percent for the game and dominated with a 48-36 edge in points in the paint.

Jeremy Lamb did a lot of the heavy lifting for OKC in the early going with 15 of his 19 points coming in the first half, as he helped guide the Thunder to a 50-46 edge at the break.

But it was the third quarter when Oklahoma City really put this one away.

Most would have assumed a shorthanded Thunder squad would eventually fade without its stars available, but it was exactly the opposite that took place, as Oklahoma City blitzed Boston 27-13 in the quarter, featuring a 17-2 run and held the Celtics without a field goal for nearly six minutes to send a large number of fans pouring out the exits.

Serge Ibaka led the way for Oklahoma City (34-10) with 21 points and seven rebounds on 9-of-13 shooting, while Lamb had a hot hand off the bench with 19 points on 9-of-17 shooting.

But those two weren't the only key contributors in this impressive team effort.

Reggie Jackson didn't have an efficient night from the floor with 14 points on just 5-of-14 shooting but he paced the offense well with eight assists against four turnovers. Thabo Sefolosha had 13 on 6-of-6 shooting. Perry Jones started in place of Durant and had 10 points and four rebounds.

The Thunder also received seven points from Derek Fisher and six each from Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison.

Everyone who saw the floor stepped up for OKC, which was certainly a necessity, but all the more impressive that each player came through with a measurable contribution.

Former Thunder forward Jeff Green led Boston with 16 points and Gerald Wallace added 13 for the Celtics, who fell to just 3-16 against Western Conference foes this season.

With the win, OKC maintained its spot atop the Western Conference standings and also improved to 15-7 overall on the road and 12-2 against the Eastern Conference.

Oklahoma City has a quick turnaround with the second game of a back-to-back coming Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in Philadelphia against the struggling Sixers, who have lost eight of their past 10 games.

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