Kevin Durant took Friday night off.
So did the Celtics’ defense.
Russell Westbrook was also out of commission.
As was the Celtics’ effort.
The game at TD Garden marked the first time since the franchise moved to Oklahoma City that both Durant (shoulder) and Westbrook (knee) sat out.
It also didn’t matter. The remaining Thunder rolled the Celtics, 101-83, giving Boston its 16th loss in 19 games and its worst home defeat since being demolished by 21 points by San Antonio in March 2010.
The Celtics (15-30) now have twice as many losses as wins, but the latest didn’t figure to be so ugly, not when the Celtics learned before tipoff that Durant, the league’s leading scorer (31 points per game) who had been averaging 38.9 points in his last nine, was going to miss his first game of the season because of a sore right shoulder.
Given his absence, it sure seemed like the Celtics had a chance to steal a win.
“We just laid down,” said forward Gerald Wallace, one of three Celtics to score in double figures (13 points). “I think we felt like because [Durant] wasn’t playing that they were just going to hand us the win, and that wasn’t the case.
“They came out in the second half, competed, took it to us, and it was kind of like [we] just laid down.”
It was close throughout the first half, and the Thunder led, 50-46, at halftime.
Then, the Celtics, who were without guards Avery Bradley (ankle) and Jerryd Bayless (foot), fell apart, getting outscored, 27-13, in the third quarter while shooting a putrid 5 of 20 from the floor.
A 17-2 Thunder run in the third essentially sealed their sixth straight win.
“We’ve had one quarter in the middle that’s hurt us at times [this season],” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “And that quarter in the middle killed us today.”
The fourth quarter was a formality, as the Western Conference-leading Thunder, who led by as many as 23, cruised to a no-sweat victory, boosting their record to 34-10.
“I just didn’t think we ever got fully engaged,” Stevens said.
Said Celtics guard Rajon Rondo: “I agree with Coach. We give up 100-plus points without Durant. We didn’t play any defense, we didn’t get a stop at all, early in the first quarter we just traded baskets and once we stopped scoring they continued to score.”
Rondo played 22 minutes after sitting out Wednesday against the Washington Wizards. He scored 5 points and had eight assists, his most yet in four games back.
“I did think he looked a little bit lighter on his feet,” Stevens said.
But Rondo said he’s still frustrated that he’s not his old self — not yet.
“At times, but I try to lose myself within the team,” he said. “The plays I usually make, I’m not making right now. But I feel positive and I’m OK with my progression right now.”
The bigger question, though, was whether the Celtics took the Thunder seriously knowing that Durant wasn’t going to play.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” Stevens said. “You’ll have to ask [the players]. If that’s the case, that would be severely disappointing.”
“Consciously? No. But something happened,” forward Kris Humphries said. “You [media] all saw the game. It wasn’t great. Thanks for staying the whole game.”
The fans sure didn’t stay, with many filing out before the final buzzer.
“I don’t think we were motivated,” Humphries said. “I don’t think we really got after it. They’re down Kevin Durant, I think their team is thinking, ‘OK, this is an opportunity for guys that don’t play, especially when he’s playing minutes.’ They just stepped it up, playing harder than us, executed, a lot of easy shots, made the right plays. I think we did the complete opposite.”
Jeremy Lamb scored 19 points off the bench for Oklahoma City, and the team was led by forward Serge Ibaka, who scored 21. Former Boston College standout Reggie Jackson added 14 points and eight assists, and former Celtics center Kendrick Perkins had 6 points and nine rebounds.
“They were quicker to the ball,” Stevens began, “more aggressive to the ball, they dominated us in the paint, they dominated second-chance points, they dominated transition, they got where they wanted with the ball, they were more powerful than us.”
That pretty much covers it.
“We laid down,” Wallace said. “We let them do whatever they wanted to do. They ran their offense, executed, you know, they got whatever shot they wanted to get. They scored however they wanted to score, and we didn’t do anything about it. We didn’t man up tonight, and it showed out on the court.”
Jeff Green led the Celtics with 16 points, but missed 7 of 8 3-pointers after making a career-high eight Wednesday against Washington. Brandon Bass added 11 points off the bench.
Overall, the Celtics lacked the kind of spirit they showcased Wednesday, when they were shorthanded on the road, playing without Rondo, Bradley, and Bayless, and still found a way to win in overtime on the second night of a back-to-back after blowing a 19-point lead.
“This should have been a bigger challenge for us than the Washington game was,” Wallace said. “It seemed like we showed up and competed in that game, where we didn’t in this game.”
The Celtics return to action on Sunday to face Brooklyn in what will be Paul Pierce’s and Kevin Garnett’s first game back at TD Garden since they were traded to the Nets last summer.Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BaxterHolmes.