OKLAHOMA CITY – Russell Westbrook tipped away a pass, got into the open court all by himself and then braced for a big take-off and a signature throwdown dunk. Instead, he meekly flipped the ball into the basket and grinned sheepishly at the Oklahoma City Thunder bench after the miscue.
“I really thought he was going to do something a little better than what he did, but I’ll take up for him and say he slipped a little bit,” said Kevin Durant, the three-time NBA scoring champion.
“But he made up for it at the end of the half.”
Did he ever.
Westbrook powered home a right-handed slam to put an exclamation point on one of the most dominant first halves in NBA history, putting Oklahoma City up by 40 on its way to a 114-69 blowout of the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday night.
The 64-24 advantage was the fifth-biggest halftime lead in NBA’s shot clock era and the largest since Golden State set the record with an 88-41 edge on Sacramento on Nov. 2, 1991, according to STATS.
It ended up as the biggest blowout in Bobcats history.
“We struggled to hit shots, we struggled to get good shots, we got beat on the boards. We got beat in all facets of the game,” Charlotte center Brendan Haywood said. “In a game like this tonight, you just basically say they beat us in every which way possible and you bounce back and you learn from the film.”
Durant scored 18 points and Westbrook had 12 points and 11 assists. The defending Western Conference champions pulled their starters after Durant’s 3-pointer from the right wing made it 79-25 less than 5 minutes into the second half.
“We came out and took care of business, regardless of who the opponent is,” Westbrook said. “That’s a good team. They came in tonight and had won some big games.
“We just took care of business.”
Rookie Jeff Taylor scored 10 points to lead Charlotte, which had shown promise with seven early wins – the same number it had last season while going 7-59 and setting an NBA record for futility.
The franchise’s worst blowout previously had been a 112-68 defeat against Portland on Feb. 1.
“There hasn’t been any kind of damage control to be done on this game,” first-year coach Mike Dunlap said. “We kind of know that OKC is a test for us, we failed it miserably but there are other, better days ahead.”
The Bobcats opened with their worst offensive quarter of the season, scoring just 12 points while committing seven turnovers on their 20 possessions, and it only got worse.
Oklahoma City broke it open with a 22-3 run, scoring the final 10 points of the first quarter and then 12 of the first 15 to start the second. Eric Maynor and Kevin Martin hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, and Durant followed that by setting up back-to-back two-handed dunks by Hasheem Thabeet and Nick Collison to make it 40-15 with 8:23 left before halftime.
The Thunder shot 60 percent from the field in the first half while limiting Charlotte to 22 percent and forcing 11 turnovers. The Bobcats made only 3 of 20 shots in the second quarter while getting outscored 36-12.
Pistons 108, Trail Blazers 101: At Auburn Hills, Mich., Brandon Knight scored 16 of his 26 points in the first half, outplaying Damian Lillard in a matchup of young guards and leading the Pistons to a victory over the Trail Blazers.
Lillard entered the day as the NBA’s top rookie scorer, averaging 19.6 points per game. He missed his first 12 shots from the field against the Pistons.
Spurs 118, Wizards 92: At Washington, Boris Diaw scored 16 points, Tiago Splitter had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Tony Parker added 15 to help the Spurs win their fourth straight over still-winless Washington.
The Wizards are the 12th team in NBA history to start the season 0-12 according to STATS and are six away from equaling the New Jersey Nets’ record 0-18 start in 2009-10. In their first 11 games, Washington lost by a total of just 72 points and never by more than 16.
Grizzlies 84, Cavaliers 78: At Memphis, Tenn., Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol scored 19 points each and Memphis overcame a lethargic performance to escape with a victory over Cleveland.
Rudy Gay scored 15 points, and Quincy Pondexter had 10 points, including 2 of 3 from outside the arc as Memphis won its second straight and maintained its position with the best record in the NBA.
Anderson Varejao and Dion Waiters scored 15 each to lead Cleveland, Varejao grabbing 22 rebounds, including eight offensive board. Daniel Gibson scored 11 for the Cavs, who lost their third straight and ninth in the last 10.
The Cavaliers still held the lead with 8:28 left, but Memphis closed the game on a 13-4 run, part of the Grizzlies outscoring Cleveland 22-9.