The Philadelphia 76ers routinely get blown out by mediocre or worse teams. Therefore, when the Sixers visited the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 4, it wouldn't have been out of line to imagine a 40-50 point loss at best. However, the Sixers played the Thunder a little closer than that, despite still losing by 125-92 -- yet it would have been worse if Kevin Durant didn't mercifully sit out the fourth quarter.
Durant took the floor a night after LeBron James knocked him off his MVP frontrunner status by scoring 61 points. With all the buzz going back to James and with the Thunder being handled such an easy target, Durant could have gone for 70 points if he wanted.
In fact, after scoring 21 points in the third quarter to get up to 42 for the night, at least 61 points could have been within reach. Yet unlike the Heat, the Thunder didn't keep Durant in a game already in hand just to help his stats. Durant sat down for the last 12 minutes as Oklahoma City gave Philadelphia some mercy.
By Sixers standards, a 33-point loss is as merciful as it gets these days. But even with Durant gone for the fourth, the Thunder still outscored the Sixers by 27-16 to inflate its win further.
Russell Westbrook also lent a hand with a triple double, racking up 14 assists, 13 points and 10 rebounds in only 21 minutes. Oklahoma City was still more than just Durant and Westbrook on this night, as the team shot over 56 percent while Philadelphia was held to 34 percent accuracy.
It says something that this was one of the least humiliating losses of the Sixers' current 15-game losing streak -- if only because it wasn't historically lopsided. Fortunately for Philadelphia, it won't face anyone of Oklahoma City's caliber in its next few games, as if that has made a difference so far.
Regardless, if anyone from the Utah Jazz scores 42 points or gets a triple-double in three quarters against the Sixers on March 8, it will be less excusable. Even giving that up to Carmelo Anthony and the increasingly pathetic New York Knicks on March 10 would be a new low for Philadelphia.