Oklahoma City - The OKC Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers aren't even in the same conference, yet they played as though they were long-time rivals.
Russell Westbrook scored 37 points, Paul George added 31, as the Oklahoma City beat Philadelphia 122-112 on Sunday night for their eighth straight victory.
The game was more intense than usual from the start, with a lot of extra trash talking and bumping. The teams combined for 51 fouls and 61 free throw attempts. It carried over from Oklahoma City's triple-overtime victory previously in Philadelphia in December.
"Leading into this game, after a little talk after game one, I think to this game, I kind of was looking forward to it," Westbrook said. "But you know - Oklahoma City 2-0."
Westbrook made just 6 of 20 shots in the first half, when he was knocked to the ground trying to take a charge as Joel Embiid threw down a vicious dunk over him. He was 8 of 13 in the second half and had 14 assists and nine rebounds.
George shot 9 of 17 a day after being named the All-Star replacement for New Orleans' DeMarcus Cousins. The Thunder are 7-0 when George scores at least 30 points and 11-4 when he scores at least 25.
Steven Adams added 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Thunder. He made 10 of 11 shots and grabbed 10 offensive rebounds.
Embiid had 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Ben Simmons added 22 points for the 76ers.
It was a bittersweet day for the Thunder. The team announced Sunday that guard Andre Roberson is expected to miss the rest of the season after having surgery on a ruptured left patella tendon. Roberson, who was a second-team All-Defence selection last season, was injured when his knee buckled and he fell during the third quarter on Saturday at Detroit.
"It's tough," Westbrook said. "'Dre is my boy. I love having him on the floor with me, and it's a tough situation for him. We are just going to continue to lift him up and pray for him, keep our spirits high for him and keep this thing rolling."
George hit a 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer to trim Philadelphia's lead to 58-57.
A dunk by Simmons put the 76ers up 75-68 early in the third before the Thunder got things going. Oklahoma City went on a 12-0 run, and a reverse lay-up by Westbrook put the Thunder up 86-79 and forced the 76ers to call a timeout. George closed out the surge with a 3-pointer that put Oklahoma City up by 10.
The Thunder led 92-83 at the end of the third. Oklahoma City shot 60% from the field in the period and held Embiid to two points.
Philadelphia left their starters in to start the fourth, and they helped the 76ers take a 98-97 lead early in the quarter.
Oklahoma City pulled away late in the game. Westbrook's 3-pointer with just under three minutes to play putting the Thunder up by seven, and he followed that up with a jumper to make it a nine-point game with two minutes left.
"We made runs, they made runs," Simmons said. "But down the stretch, we didn't take care of the ball and execute."