By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
OKLAHOMA CITY — Charlotte believed itself a team on the rise when it came into Oklahoma City on Monday night. It had a few big wins under its belt and had already matched its season win total from the year before.
The Thunder wanted to prove to the Bobcats they still have a long way to go. And so they did, drilling Charlotte 114-69 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“We kind of know OKC is a test for us,” Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap said. “We failed it miserably. But there are better days ahead.”
The 69 points allowed by the Thunder is an Oklahoma City-era franchise record. The previous low was 74. The 45-point victory margin is also a record.
“It’s obviously one of our best games that we’ve played on both ends of the floor,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “It was a combination of a few things. We really played good basketball, passing and defending. And they had a bad night. It happens.”
Kevin Durant proved very efficient for the Thunder (11-4). In 26 minutes, he finished with 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He also racked up six rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots without touching the floor in the fourth quarter.
Russell Westbrook added 12 points and 11 assists for Oklahoma City, which had five players score in double digits. As a team, the Thunder racked 31 assists.
Jeffery Taylor paced the Bobcats (7-6) with 10 points. No other Charlotte player reached double figures. The Bobcats shot a season-low 29.1 percent.
“I think everybody came out ready to play tonight,” Westbrook said. “Everybody did a great job of coming out focused and took care of the task at hand. They came in tonight wanting a big game, and we just took care of business.”
Oklahoma City’s biggest lead of the night came midway through the third period when the Thunder held a 54-point advantage. A few minutes later, Durant, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka left the game for good.
“It got out of hand real quick. It was 30-14 in the first quarter … This is a bad loss for us, but we just have to learn how to take it and keep playing,” Charlotte’s Byron Mullens said. “Just their all around game took over tonight.”
Even with the Thunder starters out, Charlotte couldn’t buy a basket. Dunlap soon benched his regulars and put in his reserves to finish the game.
The highlight of the second half was Oklahoma City reserve center Hasheem Thabeet getting the first double-double of his four-year career with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Thabeet was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft out of Connecticutt.
Thabeet’s career is experiencing a renaissance since signing with the Thunder in the offseason.
“I’m just trying to be aggressive,” Thabeet said.
Charlotte trailed 64-24 at the half.
The first 24 minutes were punctuated by a ferocious Westbrook dunk that epitomized the game.
“They were sleeping,” Westbrook said. “I just saw everybody’s head turned. So I just tried to go and take off.”
Michael KinneyFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org
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