Defense Gives Thunder a 'Chance to Win'


MIAMI – It was the effort Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks wanted to see, particularly on the defensive end.

The result was another story.

“I thought that was a very intense playoff game,” Brooks said following the Thunder’s 91-85 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. “I thought we did some good things, corrected some things going into this game, and I thought we gave ourselves a chance to win. That’s what you want to do on the road.”

The Thunder put itself in that position with its trademark play on defense. Following the tone set by center Kendrick Perkins and guards Thabo Sefolosha and James Harden, the Thunder frustrated the Heat throughout the game.

Consider the Heat, which entered the game shooting 46 percent from the field in the NBA Playoffs, was limited to 19.4 percent outside of the paint.

There were several other positive takeaways for the Thunder:

  • The Thunder held the Heat to 37.8 percent shooting from the field and 30.8 percent from 3-point range for the night;
  • The Thunder forced 15 Heat turnovers, eight in the fourth quarter;
  • The Thunder created nine steals and blocked eight shots;
  • After the Heat shot 50 percent in the first quarter, the Thunder defense limited Miami to, in order, 31.8, 28.6 and 37.5 percent over the final three periods.
  • Perhaps most impressive, the Thunder limited the Heat to four – FOUR! – field goals in the third quarter.
  • “I thought our defense was good. They got a few offensive rebounds early on we wish we could have back,” Durant said. “We put ourselves in a position to win. That’s what it’s about.”

    But with the positive comes the one thing that stands out in Brooks’ mind, and will again when the Thunder reviews the game tape during practice on Monday – fouls. The Thunder committed 25 fouls to 19 for the Heat, putting the home team on the line 35 times.

    “We fouled too many times,” Brooks said, bluntly. “They got to the free-throw line 35 times, we got to the free-throw line 24 times. We’ve got to do a better job of defending them without fouling.

    “We’ve got another game Tuesday night,” he added. “If we play with the same effort we did tonight – I have no complaints the way we played tonight.”