THUNDER LOSES SERIES
8 Assists for Russell Westbrook to go with 34 points and seven rebounds
9 Steals by the Thunder, including six by Russell Westbrook
14 Rebounds for Kevin Durant to go with 31 points, two assists, a steal and three blocks
16-9 The Thunder’s edge in fast break points on the night
17 Lead changes in the game, which also featured 14 ties
21 Points for Reggie Jackson in addition to five rebounds and three assists
29-for-33 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder, including 17-for-18 by Russell Westbrook
32-22 The Thunder’s scoring advantage in the fourth quarter
40.4 Shooting percentage the Thunder’s defense held the Spurs to on the night
May 31st, 2014
Sometimes, fighting with every ounce of energy and effort just isn’t enough.
In a 112-107 overtime loss in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder’s season ended at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs. Despite a gritty, tough performance by Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club, the Spurs were simply the better team at the end of the night, and made enough plays down the stretch to break through before the final buzzer sounded.
Turnovers and allowing offensive rebounds were problems for the Thunder throughout the night, as the Spurs scored 33 points off of 20 Thunder turnovers and scored 22 second chance points. In the third quarter, the Thunder allowed a seven-point halftime lead to slip away, giving up 37 points while only scoring 20 itself.
“We started settling for too many jump shots and then we turned the ball over,” Brooks said. “Defensively they had us scrambling around and they made some big plays at the end.”
For the rest of the night, however, the Thunder played its brand of basketball. Overall, it held the Spurs to just 40.4 percent shooting, including 11-for-35 from behind the three-point line. When it got to the fourth quarter, the Thunder erased a 12-point Spurs lead by gradually chipping away, then used an 8-0 burst to take the lead. Kevin Durant hit a huge driving layup out of a timeout and later, Russell Westbrook knocked down two clutch free throws to tie the game at 101 and send it to overtime.
Behind electric performances from Westbrook and Durant, the Thunder had a chance. Westbrook finished with 34 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and six steals, while Durant dropped 31 points and snagged a game-high 14 rebounds. Reggie Jackson added 21 points and Serge Ibaka scored 16 to go with four blocked shots. The Thunder stuck together and rallied as a unit to give itself a chance to force a Game 7 with an extra five minutes, but ultimately couldn’t get the stops and scores down the stretch to come out victorious.
“It was just our spirit and being at home with our home crowd,” center Kendrick Perkins said. “We grinded it out and gave ourselves a chance to win the game, but we just came up short.”
The resolve and will the Thunder showed to battle all night was reminiscent of the attitude it displayed throughout the season. Through adversity, injuries and challenges throughout the year, the Thunder found a way to win 59 games and come up just six games shy of winning an NBA title. Every man on the roster was important, and played an essential role in defining the way this season shaped up.
“With so much that was going on, we still stuck together and found a way to get it done,” Westbrook said. “Everybody pitched in their part to get it to this point and I definitely feel we’ve grown as a unit.”
Getting to the top of the mountain is incredibly hard in the NBA, but the Thunder is proud of its season, winning its fourth straight Northwest Division title, earning the second best record in the NBA and finding itself two games short of competing in the NBA Finals. Between individual development and team-wide improvement, the Thunder gained so much from the experience this year that veterans like Derek Fisher and rookies like Steven Adams were emotional to see the season come to an end.
“We had a meaningful season,” Fisher said. “It means something to be this close to having a chance to play for a championship again. It’s going to hurt and hopefully the group overall will be able to use it as motivation going forward.”
This game twisted and turned on multiple occasions. The Spurs making an 11-0 run that spanned the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth quarter, then the Thunder responded by chipping away, then using an 8-0 run to take a 99-97 lead late in regulation.
In overtime, the Thunder led by one with 2:22 remaining, but the Spurs rattled off the final six points of the night. The final stretch started with two Tim Duncan free throws, then after Kawhi Leonard blocked Russell Westbrook’s fast break layup attempt, Duncan hit a turnaround jumper with 19.4 seconds left. Kevin Durant missed a three-pointer, then Westbrook missed another as Boris Diaw made two free throws.
“We fought as hard as we could all night,” Durant said. “We left it all out there. They made plays down the stretch and we didn’t.”
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Great work of getting hands in the passing lanes by Kevin Durant and Kendrick Perkins to create a transition opportunity. Excellent straight-up defense by Derek Fisher in transition to force a missed layup. Steven Adams stays active, and deflects a pass that results in a Spurs turnover. Nice job of being physical off the ball by Adams to force an errant pass. Incredible job of fronting in the post by Westbrook to make a steal and start a fast break. Amazing job by Westbrook to use his quickness to harass Kawhi Leonard into a turnover.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Good job at the rim by Serge Ibaka to force a difficult miss, then a strong box out by Perkins to help the Thunder regain possession. Smart foul by Perkins to save a sure bucket and force his man to make free throws. Incredible defensive recovery by Durant to block a sure layup. Strong post defense by Durant and good hustle by Fisher to track down a loose ball. Nice awareness by Durant to tip out an offensive rebound to regain possession. Ibaka tips a defensive rebound and saves it in bounds.
”We’ve worked every day since July to be in this position, to climb to the top, and we came up six games short. We have to keep our heads up and move on.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks