BULLS 95
THUNDER 107
3 Blocks by Serge Ibaka, part of seven total for the Thunder

9-for-15 Three-point shooting by the Thunder on the night

10 Assists for Russell Westbrook, part of his sixth-straight double-double

12 Steals by the Thunder, led by Steven Adams, who had four

18 Points for Reggie Jackson on the night, including 15 in the first half and part of 40 bench points

24-10 The Thunder’s edge in fast break points on the night

32 Points for Kevin Durant on 13-for-20 shooting, including 4-for-5 from three

48-34 Points in the paint advantage for the Thunder, where it shot 24-for-48

51.2-37.7 Shooting percentage differential in the Thunder’s favor

GAME IN REVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
Dec. 19th, 2013
RECAP:

Veteran teams like the Chicago Bulls battle for all 48 minutes, but coming out of halftime, the Thunder imposed its will with suffocating defense.

In the Thunder’s 107-95 victory at Chesapeake Energy over the Bulls, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team forced six turnovers in the third quarter that turned into 13 points as it turned a three-point halftime edge into an eventual 19-point advantage. On the night the Thunder’s five-man unit pressed Chicago into 17 turnovers that resulted in 26 points, using 12 steals and seven blocks to get easy offense on the other end. Kevin Durant snatched two of his three assists during a crucial 13-4 run to start the second half, helping spark the Thunder’s push.

“Our defense was good the whole game,” Durant said. “In the second half we were able to come out, speed them up a little bit, force some turnovers and get some easy points.”

The Thunder built a 14-point lead in the first half, as Reggie Jackson scored 15 of his 18 points before halftime. Late in the second quarter, however, Chicago battled back and closed the gap heading into the halftime break. The mature and focused Thunder squad regrouped at halftime and came out not only with the requisite energy but also the proper execution on the defensive end to get multiple stops in a row.

“We just tried to shut down the paint and run them off the line,” Jackson said. “That was the focus at halftime. We did a good job of locking in, getting some stops and getting out on the break.”

With the Thunder’s defense forcing Chicago to shoot just 37.7 percent from the field on the night, it was up to the offense to produce enough against a physical Bulls defense to put them over the top. Thanks to Durant’s sizzling 32 points on 13-for-20 shooting, the Thunder had more than enough offense. As a unit the Brooks’ squad shot 51.2 percent, including a 9-for-15 mark from the three-point line. Four players scored in double figures, including Russell Westbrook whose 20-point, 10-assist performance was decisive, quick and efficient. Thabo Sefolosha who had ten points, five rebounds and four assists, while Nick Collison’s nine boosted the bench, which totaled 40 points on the evening. It was an all-around effective game for Sefolosha, whose veteran teammate noted the hustle plays that went beyond the stat sheet.

“He does so many things for us,” Collison said of Sefolosha. “He’s very consistent and he’s always going to be doing those things. He’s a big part of what we do.”

While the starting lineup took care of 67 of the Thunder’s points, it was buoyed by Jackson and the bench. Jeremy Lamb added seven points, Steven Adams had four points and seven rebounds and Andre Roberson chipped in a bucket, but it was Jackson’s play in the pick-and-roll, especially in the first half, which gave the Thunder a major shot in the arm. On 8-for-12 shooting, Jackson scored at the rim, from behind the three-point line and at the elbow when Adams set screens for him and the opposing big man stayed in the paint.

“They were just sitting back,” Jackson said. “I got some easy pull-ups. The bigs were doing a great job of setting screens for all of us tonight to get us going.”

TURNING POINT:

The Thunder burst out of the gates in the second half, turning its 55-52 advantage into a 68-56 edge with 7:52 remaining in the third quarter. After that 13-4 burst, the Bulls never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.

The run started with a block by Kevin Durant that he turned into a runner in the lane, then a Durant steal led to a Russell Westbrook fast break dunk. After a steal by Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha got out in the break for a layup. On the next play, Durant made another steal and Westbrook hit Serge Ibaka for a jumper. Durant then found Ibaka in the corner for a three-pointer before Westbrook added two free throws to build his team a 12-point edge.

PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:

Nice pick-and-roll defense by Kendrick Perkins forces Chicago into a turnover. Smart foul by Russell Westbrook saves a sure dunk. Westbrook hustles into the corner to track down a loose ball after Thabo Sefolosha deflected an entry pass. Steven Adams dives on the floor for a loose ball to help spark a Thunder run-out. Adams makes another tenacious hustle play to force a Chicago fumble then save the ball in bounds. On the next possession the entire five-man unit forces a shot-clock violation.

PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:

Kevin Durant gets back in transition defense to thwart a would-be layup. Perkins slaps the ball out of his man’s hands to break up a Chicago possession. Derek Fisher draws an offensive foul by fighting through a screen. Fisher calls out Chicago’s impending in-bounds play, helping get his teammates in position. Adams dives on the floor after deflecting the ball and starts a fast break with a quick pitch to Reggie Jackson. Westbrook boxes out a much bigger man to draw an over-the-back foul. Incredible hustle by Serge Ibaka and Westbrook to each save the ball on the same possession.



“We did a good job in that second half of really being active on the ball and pushing them out of their comfort zone. It was good and we rebounded the ball much better in the second half.” - Head Coach Scott Brooks

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