In one of the most entertaining games of the truncated NBA season, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook strikingly combined for 91 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Denver Nuggets 124-118 in overtime on Sunday.
As impressive as Durant’s career-high (and NBA-best) 51 points on 28 shots performance and Westbrook’s complementary 40 points was- Serge Ibaka’s outing equally dazzled the sellout crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Serge Protector channeled Dikemba Mutombo’s defensive prowess to post his first career triple-double with 14 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high 11 blocks to become the 14th player in franchise history (Thunder/SuperSonics) to record such a game and the first to do so with double-digit blocks.
Together, the trifecta became the first set of teammates in NBA history to record a 50-point performance, a 40-point night and a triple-double in a single game. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Durant and Westbrook are just the third pair of teammates in league history to record 50 and 40 and the first tandem to score at least 40 points apiece in the same game since Michael Jordan (44) and Scottie Pippen (40) did it for the Chicago Bulls in 1996. With two NBA scoring titles to his credit, KD recorded the sixth 50-point game in franchise history.
Both Durant and Westbrook were in rare form, and temporarily silenced any notion of the duo not being able to co-exist. The dynamic duo combined to score or assist on 60 of OKC’s 71 points in the second half and overtime, equaling the Nuggets output through the final three quarters. The Thunder’s unprecedented performance can easily be attributed to KD and Westbrook’s All-Star contributions, but Ibaka is the unsung hero. His interior defense erased a litany of OKC miscues and wiped their slate clean with his Mutombo-esque finger-wag after each rejection. Offensive production may get the glory, but defense wins games.
The Thunder have won nine consecutive home games this season, which is their longest home winning streak since moving to Oklahoma City. The last time they won nine in a row at home was during the 2004-05 season when the franchise was in Seattle.