The Philadelphia 76ers were unlucky to play the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 25. Of course, the Sixers would be unlucky to play the Thunder on any night, but it was by dumb luck that they had to face Kevin Durant as well. Durant took a night off on Jan. 24 while the Thunder blew past the Boston Celtics, yet he returned and picked up right where he left off in burning the Sixers for a triple double in a 103-91 win.
While the Sixers were perhaps closer than they should have been, Durant helped make the difference after his one-game break. Even after a night off, Durant continues to be the hottest NBA player alive -- even moreso than anyone in Miami -- with Philadelphia serving as his latest victim.
The Sixers let Durant run over them for 32 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, as he and the Thunder toyed with them before finally putting them away. Philadelphia did get as close as four points in the third quarter, yet Oklahoma City was never in danger of losing the lead again.
Given that the Thunder destroyed the Celtics even worse on Jan. 24 without Durant, his absence might not have helped the Sixers out too much. After all, this is an Oklahoma City team that is still winning without Russell Westbrook, mainly because Durant now has 30+ points in the last 10 games he has played.
The Thunder became an NBA powerhouse because they drafted Durant and Westbrook at their lowest points. The Sixers can only hope that they top the NBA draft lottery and start to draft superstars in the next few years as well. They hope someday that Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel can become the next Durant and Westbrook in years to come, but that is still a long way off.
At this time, the Thunder are setting the pace in the Western Conference, while the Sixers are getting closer to the worst record in the East and the NBA. Oklahoma City has its one superstar that is putting it on top -- who has never been more valuable than he's been this month -- while Philadelphia is still hoping and praying for a Durant of its own one day.