4 Blocked shots for Serge Ibaka to go with eight points and five rebounds

4-for-8 Shooting numbers for Reggie Jackson, who scored ten points while hitting two three-pointers

8 Assists for Russell Westbrook on the afternoon, in addition to 27 points and six rebounds

15-for-18 Free throw shooting numbers for Kevin Durant

17 Fast break points for the Thunder on 5-for-5 shooting in transition

32-15 The Thunder’s scoring edge in the first quarter

40 Points for Kevin Durant on 12-for-24 shooting, in addition to seven rebounds and three assists

41.9 Shooting percentage the Thunder held the Clippers to, including 3-for-21 from the three-point line



GAME IN REVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
May 11th, 2014

RECAP:

LOS ANGELES – The Thunder led Game 4 for all but 67 seconds. Unfortunately, that minute and seven seconds was at the very end of regulation, negating what was a solid all-around effort throughout the afternoon.

In a tough 101-99 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Thunder built a 22-point first quarter lead, and also held a 16-point edge in the fourth quarter before the Clippers embarked on a 23-8 run, followed by a 10-3 burst to close out the game. Unlike Game 3, which was an offensive show for the Staples Center crowd, Game 4 was a defensive exhibition until the fourth quarter. Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club held the Clippers to just 35.2 percent shooting and 2-for-19 from behind the three-point line through three quarters. On the afternoon, the Thunder shot a so-so 44.0 percent from the field and went 7-for-24 from the three-point line.

Ultimately, this one was in the Thunder’s grasp for most of the afternoon, but the Clippers kept chipping away until it was able to turn defense into offense and explode for a 38-point fourth quarter, ultimately making an extra few plays down the stretch to get the win.

“They played at a high level in that fourth quarter,” Brooks said. “That’s when you have to have all five guys locked in, not only physically but mentally engaged and playing off of one another. When one guy moves, four other guys need to move.”

For the first time in 11 playoff games this series, the Thunder was out-rebounded. After having out-rebounded the Clippers by at least ten in the first three contests, the Clippers snagged 15 offensive rebounds and bested the Thunder by two overall on the boards. Those extra possessions, in addition to the 16-9 disparity in turnovers in the Clippers favor led to 18 more field goal attempts for the Clippers than the Thunder.

Both teams got to the free throw line, led by Kevin Durant who scored 15 of his 40 points at the free throw line. In the final moments, however, the Clippers’ Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and Darren Collison made the key plays necessary to get the win- be it a defensive stop or a driving layup.

“The physicality of the game, that’s what this about right now,” Brooks said. “This is the second season and we’re all fighting for every possession. They made a lot of big plays down the stretch. Griffin was really a big factor down the stretch. They got to the free throw line and got layup opportunities and hit some threes.”

The Thunder’s main focus heading into Game 5 at Chesapeake Energy Arena will be improving upon its fourth quarter defense, which allowed the Clippers to shoot 14-for-22 from the field and go to the free throw line 11 times. The Clippers also scored 24 of its 38 fourth quarter points in the paint, including 12 points on fast breaks.

Another area where the Thunder could improve, as a result, is in its offensive execution. Brooks’ squad turned the ball over 16 times on the afternoon, including five times in the pivotal fourth quarter. With Durant posted up at the elbow and Russell Westbrook dribbling out top, the Thunder’s offense stagnated. If the Thunder can get more player movement off the ball, Westbrook and Durant’s aggressive, attacking nature can help free up others and find seams in the defense.

“We were having trouble getting the ball to KD, so we had some actions where we have to utilize the space on the floor and continue to attack,” Brooks explained. “(Westbrook) had some good attacks and could have gotten to the free throw line even more. That’s something we have to continue to look at and build our offensive package with.”

Although dropping this one will sting, the Thunder knows it went to Los Angeles and came back with one win, which is all that was necessary to swing home court advantage back into its favor. With the series tied at 2-2, the Thunder has a chance to play two of the final three games in front of its home crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena. By getting to work in the film room and in the practice facility on Monday, the Thunder will give itself a chance to take a 3-2 series lead on Tuesday.

“We have to have a quick turnaround,” Durant said. “We have our next game in a couple days, so we have to turn the page quickly. We can't get too high off of wins and too low off of losses. We have to figure out what we did wrong and get better at it in Game 5.”

TURNING POINT:

The Clippers made a 23-8 run in the fourth quarter to turn a 16-point Thunder edge into just a one-point deficit, but the burst that put Los Angeles on top came in the final two minutes, starting with the Thunder up 94-91 with 1:57 remaining. Blake Griffin scored on an old fashioned three-point play, then after a Kevin Durant free throw, Jamal Crawford hit a three-pointer. Russell Westbrook responded with a layup, but Darren Collison hit two consecutive layups to give the Clippers a 101-97 lead with just 32.8 seconds remaining. The 10-3 run by the Clippers was the difference down the stretch.

PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:

Nice work getting around a screen by Kevin Durant to set himself up for a floater on the wing, then Kendrick Perkins boxes out and tips a defensive rebound to a teammate. Incredible backdoor cut by Thabo Sefololosha and nice vision by Westbrook to find him for a layup. Strong post defense by Serge Ibaka to force a tough miss by Blake Griffin at the rim. Russell Westbrook sprints across the lane after a loose ball and tracks it down to regain possession. Excellent work by Perkins on a switch against Chris Paul to keep him in front.

PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:

Nice movement by Perkins up top to continually set screens for Durant, freeing him up for a jumper. Great activity and ball pressure by Westbrook and Durant leads to a tough Clippers possession. An unreal lefty pass by Westbrook to Durant for a transition bucket. Nick Collison does a great job of battling in the post by boxing out, drawing a foul on Blake Griffin. Solid pick-and-roll defense forces the Clippers to throw the ball away. Collison slaps two balls away to save buckets. Excellent positioning by Steven Adams to snare an offensive rebound and draw a foul.



“We had some opportunities. We turned it over too many times. That was a big part of their opportunities to create a lot of transition points.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks