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Thunder Destroy Philadelphia In Butler's Debut

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We saw both ends of the NBA spectrum on Tuesday at Chesapeake Arena.

The downtrodden Philadelphia 76ers (15-46) were in town to face the Western Conference favorite Oklahoma City Thunder (46-15).  Things went about as you'd imagine.

Kevi Durant's 42 points and Russell Westbrook's triple double helped the Thunder cruise to a 125-92 victory over the Sixers. 

Durant's 42 points on 14-20 shooting and nine rebounds came in just 33 minutes as the Thunder superstar sat out the entire fourth quarter. Westbrook shot a modest 4-9, finishing with 13 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds.  Westbrook also rested during the game's final period.

Westbrook set a new Thunder record for assists in a half, recording 11 of his 14 assists in the first half.  He also recorded a triple double in the second-fewest minutes in NBA history. The All-Star point guard played just 21 minutes, second only to Jim Tucker (17 minutes) in 1955.

"To have a triple double in 20 minutes, that's unheard of," Durant said.  "I'm super proud of him, he's getting his legs under him."

This one was never in doubt. The Thunder outscored Philly 37-23 in the first and never looked back.  OKC's 125 points is two shy of a season high.

Former Oklahoma State Cowboy James Anderson led the 76ers with 20 points. Anderson drained six 3-pointers in 27 minutes.  Former Thunder big guy Byron Mullens added 15 off the bench, while rookie sensation Michael Carter-Williams finished with 14. 

As for Butler, it was a fairly uneventful debut. The 12th-year man from UConn played 26 minutes, scored two points on 1-4 shooting and grabbed five rebounds.  Butler made his official debut wiht 5:26 to play in the first quarter, entering the game to a standing ovation.

Durant spoke after the game about Butler's potential impact.

"I love him," Durant said. "Great teammate, willing to go out there and sacrifice shots, minutes, for the betterment of the team. He's a great veteran and I'm glad to have him."

Coach Scott Brooks was impressed with Butler's unselfishness.

"He played basketball the correct way. If he had a shot, he took it. If he had a pass, he passed it."

Butler talked about his debut afterward, praising the Thunder fans for a warm welcome.

"That was unbelievable," Butler said. "I didn't expect that, I didn't know how to feel. I was just excited to be back in that environment. It felt like being at UConn again."

As far as his game is concerned, Butler said he was trying to pick his moments and get accustomed to his new surroundings.

"I was just trying to find my spots. We walked through a lot of stuff in practice, but nothing compares to the live action. I had my legs under me, I felt good. Whatever role they need me to play, I'm ready for it."

And after coming over from the lowly Milwaukee Bucks, Butler was happiest about just seeing a win.

"As long as we win, I'm good. I haven't won in a month, so it felt good to get that win."

Durant's 42 in three quarters comes one night after MVP-race-rival LeBron James dropped 61 points against a tough Charlotte team. Westbrook joked about Durant's scoring potential with Leslie McCaslin afterward.

"He's amazing, man," Westbrook declared with a smile. "He had 42 in three quarters...if he played another quarter, he may get 70...you never know."

The Thunder heads to Phoenix on Thursday night to face the Suns. Tip time is set for 8 p.m.

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