These words are not often used together in a sentence: The Philadelphia 76ers convincingly won a basketball game Saturday night.
Led by Jahlil Okafor's game-high 25 points and 10 rebounds, the Sixers won their fifth game of the year, 114-89, over the Portland Trail Blazers to snap Portland's three-game winning streak.
From the opening tip, it was a dominant display by Philadelphia, which hasn't been the norm this year. The Sixers took a 29-17 lead in the first quarter, which set the tone for their strong defensive play. Portland shot 39 percent from the floor and made five of 29 attempts from three-point range.
Even more impressive was the work Philly did against All-Star guard Damian Lillard, who had scored 30 or more points in three of his last four games coming into Saturday. But Philadelphia held Lillard to 14 points on 4-of-18 shooting.
Meanwhile, the Sixers had one of their better offensive performances of the season, shooting 55 percent from the floor. Perhaps it helped that hip-hop's power couple of Nicki Minaj and Philly rap star Meek Mill was in attendance, per Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly:
Philadelphia took a 68-43 lead into the break, which was its largest halftime lead since 2012, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Even SB Nation's Liberty Ballers couldn't understand what was happening:
SIXERS LEAD BY 31 POINTS IN A BASKETBALL GAME AGAINST ANOTHER AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL TEAM— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) January 17, 2016
ESPN.com's Marc Stein also took to Twitter to find out what was going on inside the Wells Fargo Center:
Is that Sixers-Blazers score real?— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 17, 2016
But the star of the night was the third overall pick in last year's NBA draft. Okafor put up the 16th 20-plus-point game of his young career while making 12 of 16 shots. The home crowd was pleased with how the future superstar played, per the Sixers:
Jahlil Okafor checks out of the game to a standing ovation. Big man's got 25 points and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes played.— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) January 17, 2016
The 2015-16 season has not been kind to Philadelphia, but the team has shown a willingness to fight and play hard each night. Head coach Brett Brown doesn't get to rest his starters in the fourth quarter every night, so the Sixers will surely enjoy this one.
The story for the Sixers after the game was how well their defense played. Holding a team like the Blazers to under 100 points on a rough shooting night counts for more than just a win.
Brown told Tom Moore of Calkins Media about how important it was to have a performance like this:
#Sixers Brown: 'Our defense set the table. We came out and showed we're going in the direction we want to be going.'— Tom Moore (@tmoore76ers) January 17, 2016
#Sixers Brett Brown: 'We felt like we threw one away the other night. We think we're playing good basketball lately.'— Tom Moore (@tmoore76ers) January 17, 2016
#Sixers Brown: 'You truly enjoy (a blowout win). Our guys deserve it. It's fantastic for the city to experience a game like this.'— Tom Moore (@tmoore76ers) January 17, 2016
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts noted that his team struggled heavily, but also gave Philadelphia the props it deserved after a complete performance.
"We never got into any rhythm to the game," Stotts said, per the Associated Press. "Philly maintained their pressure - full court, half court - and the shots we did get we didn't make."
The Sixers were inches away from putting up back-to-back wins. Unfortunately for them, Jimmy Butler scored 53 points and the Chicago Bulls won in overtime. Philadelphia didn't let that happen this time around, thanks to the play of their rookie big man.
"A few days ago when we played the Bulls, I think we learned our lesson - that the game wouldn't be over," Okafor said, per the AP. "We were able to go out there, compete and get stops, and continue to run our offense. ... It was a really fun game to be a part of."
The Sixers will get a chance to go for back-to-back wins again when they take on the New York Knicks on Monday.