Thunder's bench dominates Pistons

Dana Gauruder, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Oklahoma City's bench might be the biggest question mark in the Thunder's quest for a championship. That wasn't the case on Friday night.
With a big performance from rookie center Steven Adams, the reserves delivered an exclamation point to the franchise's ninth consecutive victory over the Detroit Pistons.
The bench combined for 42 points, including 17 from Adams, in the Thunder's 119-110 win at The Palace.
"It's not just one guy, it's not just two guys, it not just the starting five. It's the one through 14 in our group," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "That's what I like about our group. We're going to keep pushing each other and my job is to find the right matchup and button to push throughout the game. Our guys off the bench did a great job and our starters have no complaints."
The Thunder's best starter was as dominant as ever. Forward Kevin Durant, the NBA's leading scorer, poured in 37 points and added eight rebounds and seven assists while guard Russell Westbrook had 20 points despite 5-of-19 shooting.
The play of Adams, who added 10 rebounds and three blocks, and the rest of the bench gave Oklahoma City the boost it needed to get past Detroit, which had three 20-point scorers.
"He looked good in practices and he's doing the same things," Durant said of Adams. "He's learning every single game. He's starting to get consistent with his play. He's 20 years old, so we've got to be patient with him but he's playing well."
The Thunder, who lost last season's sixth man Kevin Martin to free agency, also received 10 points from guard Jeremy Lamb, nine from forward Nick Collison and six points, six rebounds and six assists from guard Reggie Jackson off the bench.
"We're just trying to move the ball on the offensive end, run our stuff sharp and just let the ball decide who's going to get the shot," Collison said. "That's working for us. Defensively, we've been locking in and making them shoot over a hand. We're encouraged with the start."
Forward Josh Smith scored a season-high 25 points with eight rebounds for the Pistons (2-3) before fouling out with 3:28 left. Point guard Brandon Jennings contributed 22 points and 11 assists and power forward Greg Monroe also had a double-double with 20 points and 15 rebounds.
Detroit coach Mo Cheeks, an assistant under Brooks the past four seasons, saw his former team take control in the latter stages of the third quarter. Oklahoma City held on by outscoring the Pistons 12-0 in the paint during the fourth quarter.
"It was offensive rebounding," Cheeks said. "When we had a chance to either close the gap or go up, they would get offensive rebounds for a score or kick it out to somebody else."
Smith scored 10 third-quarter points but sat out the last 6:21 after picking up his fourth foul. Durant took advantage of his absence, scoring 10 points the rest of the quarter.
When he came off a screen and buried a 3-pointer, the Thunder took a 75-74 lead that would not be relinquished. In the closing seconds, Durant found Lamb for a 3-pointer to give Oklahoma City an 84-76 advantage.
Adams split defenders in the first minute of the fourth, bumping the Thunder's lead to double digits, 88-78. The Pistons couldn't get closer than four points the rest of the way.
Detroit's other losses were to Memphis and Indiana, which like Oklahoma City have serious title aspirations.
"We were all right in all those games, but they just made that extra push at some point in the second half to put them over the top," Monroe said. "I think once we get to that point, we have to force those runs. People always say in the NBA teams are going to make those runs but those good teams force those runs."
NOTES: Detroit's last victory over Oklahoma City was a 90-88 decision Dec. 26, 2008. ... The Pistons head to the West Coast for their next four games, while the Thunder play three of the next four on the road. ... Detroit F/C Greg Monroe had an Eastern Conference-best 70 double-doubles since 2011-12. ... The Thunder forced a league-best 21 turnovers in the first four games. ... Pistons F Charlie Villanueva, who hasn't played this season, was inactive because of a sore left shoulder. ... Detroit coach Mo Cheeks classifies Oklahoma City F Kevin Durant and G Russell Westbrook as superstars, a distinction he doesn't take lightly. "Russell and KD are great for a reason," Cheeks said. "You go in with a game plan of slowing them down. I don't think you're going to stop them. That's why there are so few great players in the game. To be great, you have to do it every night and those guys do it every night."

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