THUNDER LEADS SERIES
9 Steals by the Thunder, who forced the Clippers into 17 turnovers that led to 23 points
10 Rebounds for Kevin Durant, who also scored 27 points and had five assists
19-12 The Thunder’s advantage in fast break points, as it held the Clippers to just two fast break points after the first quarter
25-18 The Thunder’s scoring edge in the fourth quarter, including an 8-0 burst to end the game
32-for-36 Free throw shooting numbers by the Thunder, including 26-for-28 by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook
38 Points for Russell Westbrook on 11-for-23 shooting, in addition to six assists, five rebounds and three steals
44-22 The Thunder’s advantage in points in the paint, where it held the Clippers to just 11-for-28 shooting
May 13th, 2014
At a timeout, when the Thunder was down by seven points with just 49 seconds remaining, but in the huddle there was not an ounce of doubt. Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team still had a chance.
In a frenetic, improbable final minute of action at Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Thunder snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, snaring a crucial Game 5 win over the Los Angeles Clippers with an 8-0 run in the final 43 seconds to win 105-104.
Hustle plays from Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson and Kevin Durant highlighted the furious three quarters of a minute that saw Durant hit a huge three-pointer then follow it up with a layup and Westbrook knock down three free throws with just 6.4 seconds remaining. After getting two straight defensive stops, the Thunder needed one more, and got it by forcing a turnover as the final buzzer sounded.
“We just chipped away down to the end,” Brooks said. “One of the things I tell our guys is that we play through everything.”
“We just kept figting. We were down 13 with a little under three mintues to go and we didn’t give up,” center Kendrick Perkins said.
The Thunder wouldn’t have even been in position to get this win without the relentless attacking of Westbrook, who led all scorers with 38 points, the most he’s scored in the playoffs this season. Westbrook was 11-for-23 from the field and 14-for-16 from the free throw line, willing the Thunder to a 44-22 advantage in points in the paint and a tremendous 32-for-36 night at the free throw line. The Thunder floor general also racked up six assists, five rebounds and three steals on the night.
By continually attacking the rim by finding angles to the bucket, Westbrook carried a Thunder offense that struggled at times to make shots. Whether it was going right or left, attacking in transition or in the half court, Westbrook managed to both draw fouls and make tough layups to keep the scoreboard moving while the Thunder waited for its moment to pounce late in the fourth quarter.
“He’s fierce, he’s fearless and he’s a winner,” Brooks said. “There’s nothing else you can say other than those three things. That’s who he is. The guy competes for his team every single night. He practices the way he plays. His success derives from all the work he puts in.”
“Kevin always comes to me and tells me to stay aggressive, regardless of what’s going on,” Westbrook said. “When the game gets out of whack, as a point guard it’s my job to figure out what it is that we need. If it’s rebounding, scoring, passing or whatever it is to keep us in the game.”
While Westbrook led the way, the supporting cast was crucial throughout the night. Whether it was Durant’s ten points on 3-for-5 shooting to shake off a tough night from the floor, Reggie Jackson’s seven enormous rebounds or the verve Steven Adams played with to rack up nine points, four rebounds and two blocks, the Thunder got just enough from every player to keep it within striking distance.
“We stick together,” guard Thabo Sefolosha said. “We believe in one another and it showed tonight. The game is never over. That was the mindset, to keep fighting, and we found a way.”
“We just stayed the course,” guard Derek Fisher said. “Everyone was just remaining positive and supporting the guys that were in the game. That helped the guys have some positive energy as we tried to fight through the ups and downs throughout the course of the game.”
The Thunder trailed by 13 at 101-88 with just 4:13 remaining, but a dramatic 17-3 run over the final four minutes turned what would have been a tough loss into an exhilarating win. The burst started with a Russell Westbrook driving layup and a Kevin Durant three-pointer in transition. After a Clippers timeout, Durant attacked and got two free throws before the Thunder made two defensive stops that resulted in a Reggie Jackson fast break layup.
The Clippers scored three straight points on a Blake Griffin free throw and a Chris Paul jumper to make it 104-97 with 49.2 seconds remaining, but would never score again. Durant hit a three-pointer out of the ensuing in-bounds play, then the Thunder forced a miss, leading to a Durant fast break layup. Westbrook then made a steal on the ensuing inbounds pass, and after an attempted layup by Jackson was slapped out of bounds, it was Thunder ball. Westbrook received the inbounds pass and brought the ball out to the three-point line, where he was fouled. He proceeded to make all three free throws with just 6.4 seconds left, resulting in the Thunder forcing a final turnover to end the game.
“We wanted to switch on everything and be aggressive,” guard Thabo Sefolosha said. “We did a good job of staying in front of our men and getting the stop.”
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Serge Ibaka’s pressure on Blake Griffin forces a turnover on the very first possession of the game. Nice job by Kendrick Perkins to slip a screen, then good vision by Russell Westbrook to him under the rim. Reggie Jackson smartly tips a defensive rebound out to a teammate. Incredible play by Westbrook to slap the ball out from behind to make a steal at the end of the quarter. Derek Fisher hustles around a screen and draws an offensive foul. Kevin Durant hustles back in transition and draws a charge. Westbrook stands tall in the lane and draws a charge on the ensuing possession.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Strong pump fake by Ibaka to force his man to fly into the air and give himself an easy run to the rim. Quick hands by Ibaka and Westbrook to force Chris Paul into a turnover. Steven Adams calmly waits in the dunker’s spot and receives a pass from Westbrook for a dunk. Excellent screens by Adams on the same play to free up Westbrook for a layup plus the foul. Westbrook fights around a screen and draws an offensive foul.
“When you get a win like this it kind of brings everyone closer… You have to take every moment, every play and try to go out and win the game.” – guard Russell Westbrook