Russell Westbook's 36-point stellar performance reminded the league why he's a top MVP candidate, overshadowed Marcus Smart's career night and snapped a five-game winning streak in a 122-118 Thunder win.
Westbrook scored 15 of his 36 points in the third quarter, a 12-minute stretch where the Thunder put up 40 points and headed towards the fourth with a 93-81 lead.
The C's tried to crawl back in the fourth behind an 11-4 mid-quarter run. But the Thunder cemented their lead at the free throw line, shooting 12-for-12 in the last two minutes and the Celtics never recovered.
Smart filled up the stat line posting a career-high 25 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Brandon Bass added 20 points and Kelly Olynyk added 20 points off the bench. Celtics shot an impressive 47 percent from the floor.
The Celtics were very efficient offensively in the first half. They outscored Oklahoma City 33-25 in the second quarter and did a good job spreading the ball. Six players scored in double-digits for the Celtics.
"The first two quarters, they imposed their will on us," Westbrook said. "It was aggressive. We were the ones getting pushed around. Coming out of halftime, I was just trying to change the pace, bring energy, on both sides of the basketball."Westbrook got help from his new big man Enes Kanter, who scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Anthony Morrow contributed, scoring 20 points off the bench. The Thunder played their uptempo style offense in the second half which led to easy buckets and trips to the free throw line. Oklahoma City went 33-for-39 from the charity stripe. Westbrook alone attempted a franchise-high 22 free throws, he made 19 of them.
"We didn't balance poise and assertiveness at the level you need in this building in a game where they played really well," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.Celtics also committed 20 turnovers. They weren't the ugliest turnovers, but when the Thunder were pulling away in the second half, the Celtics were forcing plays.
"They were speeding us up," Avery Bradley said after the game. "We were trying to make thread-the-needle passes, passes that weren't there."The Celtics will try to steal one in San Antonio on Friday night against the Spurs. Despite last night's loss the C's are still in the playoff picture, tied for the eighth spot with the Indiana Pacers.
Marcus Smart made franchise history last night, becoming the first Celtics rookie to make seven three-pointers in a single game (7-for-12). The Oklahoma State University alum played his best game of the season last night and talked about how it felt to be back in Oklahoma:
"It felt good to be back here in familiar territory. It's just one of those nights. My teammates did a good job of finding me in the right positions to score the ball."