The Oklahoma City Thunder extended their winning streak against the Philadelphia 76ers to 17 games with a dramatic 119-117 triple-overtime victory Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook recorded his NBA-leading 10th triple-double of the season with 27 points, 18 rebounds and 15 assists. Carmelo Anthony added 24 points and seven boards, while Paul George chipped in 24 points and three steals.
Joel Embiid had another strong showing for the Sixers with 34 points, eight rebounds and six assists. JJ Redick contributed 19 points on the strength of four three-pointers, and Jerryd Bayless put together a solid performance off the bench with 14 points.
OKC's recent run of dominance over Philly is the NBA's longest active winning streak by one team over another, per the Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN Stats & Info).
The Thunder's much-maligned offense, which ESPN.com noted came in to the night tied for 23rd in efficiency (102.3 points per 100 possessions), came out clicking on all cylinders in the first half.
Anthony led the way with 16 points as Oklahoma City shot 52.5 percent from the field, including a blistering 61.5 percent from beyond the arc, to build an eight-point lead at the break.
The NBA highlighted Melo's strong effort at the offensive end in the opening 24 minutes:
Carmelo Anthony had the jumper working in the 1st half scoring 16 PTS on 7-10 shooting! Tune in for the second half on @ESPNNBA. #ThunderUp https://t.co/1ZO3XCXd5m2017-12-16 01:22:29
Spike Eskin of WIP joked about the veteran small forward's success against the 76ers:
Spike Eskin @SpikeEskin
little known fact: Carmelo Anthony has never missed a jumper at the wells fargo center.2017-12-16 00:46:48
Philadelphia couldn't keep pace with the hot-shooting Thunder. It connected on 41.9 percent of its shots before the break and made just seven three-pointers despite 21 long-range attempts.
Oklahoma City, which twice pulled away after Philadelphia trimmed the lead to three, appeared ready to cruise to the finish line as it grabbed an 11-point lead with less than six minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The 76ers responded with an 11-0 run to force overtime as the Thunder failed to score a single point over the final 5:35 of regulation. George had a last-second look at a three to win, but he couldn't sink the 32-footer.
Jake Brown of SNY thought Westbrook's lack of distribution late helped spur Philly's comeback:
Jake Brown @JakeBrownRadio
The reason it's going to OT...horrific job by Westbrook. Has to pass the ball more down stretch. Absolute terrible shot selection. #Sixers #Thunder2017-12-16 02:22:22
Nothing was decided during the first two overtimes. The Sixers' Dario Saric missed a three in the final seconds of the first extra period, and the Thunder's Andre Roberson couldn't connect on a reserve layup attempt in the final moments of the second overtime, though it looked like Embiid fouled him.
Roberson got redemption, though. OKC ran a similar set to close out the third OT, and this time, the defensive-minded guard was able to convert the layup opportunity with nine seconds remaining.
Redick had a final chance to win it for the Sixers, but Patrick Patterson blocked his three-point effort as the Thunder survived to win a thriller.
Amazingly, Westbrook still had his usual speed and explosion after 50 minutes on the floor, as the NBA spotlighted:
Russell Westbrook goes coast to coast and throws down the ferocious slam to finish off the @okcthunder triple OT win! #ThunderUp https://t.co/f3JtH9XN8B2017-12-16 03:21:38
Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James enjoyed the show:
LeBron James @KingJames
Man this game is NUTS!!!!! #OKCvsPHI #AFansTreat2017-12-16 03:09:49
Looking ahead, the Thunder (14-14) are back in action Saturday night as Anthony returns to the Big Apple to face the New York Knicks. Former teammate Kristaps Porzingis told reporters fans should "receive him with love" in his first game back at Madison Square Garden since September's blockbuster trade.
The Sixers (14-14) get the weekend off before visiting the Chicago Bulls at United Center on Monday night. It will be a chance for them to regroup after dropping five of their past six games to see their record fall to .500 after a promising 13-9 start to the 2017-18 campaign.