OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma City Thunder are on a roll, having won a season-high seven consecutive games after Saturday night's victory at Detroit.
But in the locker room after the game, the mood was somber. Guard Andre Roberson, one of the top defenders in the NBA, had to be carted off on a stretcher late in the third quarter.
Roberson suffered a ruptured patellar tendon when he went up on the baseline to try to catch a lob from Russell Westbrook before his left knee buckled.
The Thunder haven't lost since Dec. 1 when their normal starting lineup is intact, but Roberson's injury casts a pall on their current winning streak going into Sunday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
"He's a huge part of our team and why we win," Oklahoma City center Steven Adams said of Roberson. "It's a huge blow to us, but we're just gonna have to rely on some other players."
The Thunder struggled defensively when Roberson missed eight games, going just 4-4 during that stretch.
The 76ers are hot as well, having won five of six and nine of their last 11. Philadelphia started a four-game road trip with a win over San Antonio on Friday.
In that game, the 76ers built a 25-point lead by late in the third quarter and stayed strong, winning 97-78.
It was the latest step for a young team that has struggled at times to maintain big leads.
In eight of its 21 losses, Philadelphia has led by 11 or more points. That included the only loss during the last six Monday night at Memphis when the 76ers were up by 15 in the third quarter before falling 105-101.
"Teams make their run and sometimes we just kind of fold and turn the ball over and stop guarding," guard T.J. McConnell told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "Any team in the NBA, they'll get back into it."
The 76ers, last in the NBA in turnovers with 17.3 per game, had a season-low 10 against the Spurs.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said that trend must continue for his team to remain successful.
"I think (turnovers and fouls) are the two major things that connect the dots to loss of leads," Brown told the newspaper. "They lead to 3s. So you cannot turn it over. ...
"There's a lot of 3s generated through the turnovers, and just generally trying not to push them in the bonus until as late as possible."
Without Roberson, it'll likely be rookie Terrance Ferguson or second-year guard Alex Abrines getting more minutes.
Ferguson has shown promise on both ends of the floor but has been wildly inconsistent at times.
Abrines is limited defensively but has had his moments on the offensive end. After scoring in double figures in four of six games in December, he hasn't reached the mark in any of the last 19 games and played just six minutes in Saturday's win after sitting out the two previous games.