BOSTON – The Oklahoma City Thunder are a perfect example of the pick-your-poison scenario that so many teams face in the NBA.
They could focus on limiting Russell Westbrook which opens things up for his teammates. Or they try and keep his teammates from having a big game.
The Thunder seemingly had both Westbrook and a handful of his teammates shooting the ball well which was good enough for them to take a 58-54 lead into the half.
Oklahoma City came with one run after another, only to be turned back by the Celtics either by a timely basket or a defensive stop that eventually led to a score.
The Thunder finally tied the game up with less than two minutes to play following a dunk by Steven Adams.
Boston regained the lead following a 3-pointer by Al Horford only for Westbrook to tie it up at 54-all with 44.1 seconds to play in the half. And it was Westbrook’s driving lay-up that put the Thunder ahead 56-54 with less than 30 seconds left.
After an Isaiah Thomas turnover, Westbrook remained in attack mode and drew a foul with 1.6 seconds to play. His two free throws capped off a 7-0 run by Oklahoma City to close out the half.
It was a one-possession game after the first quarter, which was good for the Thunder when you consider they trailed by as many as 11 points in the first.
The game remained close during the early stages of the second quarter, with the Celtics unable to capitalize on the Thunder giving Russell Westbrook a rest.
The Celtics have had their problems at home this season, in part because of slow starts.
Boston players were determined to not let that happen on Friday as they opened play with a 17-6 spurt.
But the Thunder soon recovered and went on a 12-2 run to cut Boston’s lead to 26-25.
The Celtics got a last-second floater from Tyler Zeller which would serve as the final points of the first quarter which ended with Boston on top 28-25.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Friday's game.
It wasn’t a Russ-diculous line in the first half, but there’s no mistaking his presence was felt. The attention he drew opened things up for some of his teammates. That said, Westbrook still went into the half with 16 points, nine assists and four rebounds.
You know what Johnson can do defensively, but from time to time he can get cooking with his shot, too. He scored seven points in the first four minutes of play and had 10 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Like Westbrook, Thomas’ first half stats didn’t exactly blow you away. After two quarters of play, he has 10 points and five assists.
Nobody benefited more from the attention paid to Russell Westbrook, than Sabonis. He had 17 points at the half on a perfect 7-for-7 shooting night.
The Boston Celtics could not keep Kanter from killing them on the offensive boards. At the half, Kanter had 11 points and five rebounds.
It was another solid showing for Horford who had 12 points at the half on 4-for-9 shooting with four rebounds.
After an extremely efficient shooting night at Indiana on Wednesday, was nowhere to be found 24 hours later. Crowder missed all four of his shots from the field, going scoreless in the first half.