By Randy Renner
The Thunder faced perhaps their stiffest test of these recent hot streak, going up against an almost healthy Indiana Pacers squad that had won six of their last seven games, on Tuesday night.
Stiff test or not the Thunder stampeded the Pacers from the jump, stumbled in the third quarter and then took control again in the fourth to cruise to a 105-92 win that wasn't really that close.
Russell Westbrook registered his third triple-double of the season with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
"I'm just blessed and happy to play the game I love," Westbrook told reporters afte the game. "I'm just continuing to learn and just takes what the defense gives me."
It wasn't so much that the Pacers were giving Westbrook anything he was more in the mood to just take whatever he wanted and prevent the Pacers from getting much of anything they needed.
"We have the best rebounding point guard in the game and it all starts off with the contesting of their shots," said Thunder head coach Scott Brooks.
The Thunder held Indiana to 43.2 percent shooting and they had another big rebiunding night, grabbing 57. Oklahoma City leads the NBA in overall rebounding and are second in offenisve rebounds and they pulled down 15 of those.
"We established things early with our defense and then give our bench a lot of credit, they took the game over with all the threes they hit," Brooks said.
Yes that Thunder bench bailed out the team late in the third quarter. The Pacers had cut the lead down to just one point (65-64) with 4:32 to play in the third. The Thunder went on a quick 12-1 run highlighted by a Dion Waiters 3-ball off a pass from DJ Augustin. Then Thunder bench mates Augustin, Waiters and Anthony Morrow dropped consecutive 3-point bombs to destroy the Pacers hopes for a rally and stretch the lead out to 20 at 89-69 and that was pretty much that.
Serge Ibaka had another big night, dominating on both ends of the floor, scoring 23 points, hauling in 10 rebounds and blocking three shots. Ibaka has been an absolute beast lately and he was very difficult for Indiana to handle.
Waiters finished with 14 points off the bench, hitting four 3-pointers and Morrow dropped in 12 on 5-for-9 shooting.
Enes Kanter continues to get more comfortable, he scored 15 points while grabbing five rebounds and Mitch McGary was solid, if not spectacular at times, scoring nine points, pulling down eight rebounds, blocking two shots and licking up a couple of steals.
And remember Kevin Durant isn't out there playing.
The Thunder have now won seven straight and nine of their last 10. They go on the road now for games in Phoenix, Portland and Los Angeles against the Lakers.
It's a crucial road trip which will further define a season of incredible challenges that have so far been met with grit and determination and now, finally, a winning streak.