BOSTON The Boston Celtics played the Oklahoma City Thunder tougher - a lot tougher - than most anticipated.
But in the end, it was the Thunder making all the big shots and getting the big stops defensively that sent the sinking C's to yet another disappointing defeat, 97-88. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 28 points, in addition to grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out three assists.
Boston (4-8) has now lost five straight, the kind of losing skid we haven't seen around these parts during the Big Three era.
After a long jumper by Mickael Pietrus cut Oklahoma City's lead to 83-80, the Thunder connected on back-to-back 3-pointers, the last of which came from Russell Westbrook with 1:31 to play that gave Oklahoma City an 89-82 lead.
Pietrus struck with a 3-pointer, his third of the night, only to have Westbrook deliver a 3-point dagger of his own that pushed the Thunder's lead back to seven points.
Paul Pierce put together one of his best games of the season, finishing with 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting. And Jermaine O'Neal, who has struggled mightily all season with his shot, tallied his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Even as the C's continued to battle, there never seemed a point in the game when the Thunder's control of the game seemed in doubt. In many ways, it seemed as if the Thunder were toying with them, seemingly allowing the C's to get close without any fear that their chances at winning was in doubt.