THUNDER 101
CELTICS 83
5 Players who scored in double figures for the Thunder

6-for-6 Shooting numbers for Thabo Sefolosha, who finished with 13 points

8 Assists for Reggie Jackson, tying a career-high, in addition to 14 points and 4 rebounds

9 Rebounds for Kendrick Perkins, a team-high in addition to six points

21 Points for Serge Ibaka on 9-for-13 shooting, in addition to seven rebounds

37 Bench points for the Thunder, led by 19 from Jeremy Lamb

45-32 Rebounding advantage for the Thunder on the night, leading to 19 second chance points

48-36 The Thunder’s edge in points in the apint

GAME IN REVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
Jan. 24th, 2014
RECAP:

BOSTON – Every player on the Thunder sacrifices for the team, starting with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and throughout the roster. On Friday night, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club showed that even without its two leading scorers and All-Star-type players, there is plenty of talent, ability and cohesion in the locker room as the Thunder ran away from the Boston Celtics in a 101-83 victory.

Durant and Westbrook sat for the Thunder, but that factor didn’t change the Thunder’s goals or plans heading into the game. At its core, the Thunder wants to do two things at an extremely high level –defend and share the basketball. Veterans like Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha, along with young players like Serge Ibaka, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones all stepped up and showed their capabilities.

“I’m not surprised,” Sefolosha said. “I’m proud of the guys and I think we gave a good effort and played for one another, but that’s the staple of our team. It’s no different if KD or Russ are there or not, we just want to play Thunder basketball.”

The Thunder’s offense clicked throughout the night, spurred on by relentless ball and player movement as the pass found a good shot on almost every trip down floor. Racking up 24 assists, including a career-high-tying eight for Reggie Jackson for the second straight game, the Thunder shot a blistering 53.8 percent from the field.

Five different players scored in double figures for Brooks’ squad, led by Ibaka’s 21 points and buoyed by a 6-for-6 shooting night for Sefolosha en route to 13 points, along with 14 and 10 for Jackson and Jones respectively. The catalyst for the Thunder’s offense, however, was Lamb, who scored 15 of his 19 points in the first half, opening things up for his teammates by continually putting pressure on the defense by coming off screens hard and giving himself a chance to dribble, shoot or pass. With those three options, Lamb and his teammates kept making the right decision with the basketball, leading to good looks.

“We just moved the ball and kept attacking,” Lamb said. “We got a lot of open shots off of ball movement. Those are the easiest shots, the open shots. We got some easy ones, got out in transition and put a lot of stops and scores together.”

The offense was humming in the first half, but it was when the defense ratcheted up its intensity in the third quarter that the Thunder broke away for good. By using a 22-4 run, the Thunder held the Celtics to just 13 points in the third period, forcing Boston into five turnovers and just 5-for-20 shooting from the field. During that stretch the Thunder closed out strong, got a hand in their men’s faces and ended the possession with a defensive rebound, as Brooks’ team out-rebounded the Celtics by 13 on the night.

“In the third quarter we came out with the proper energy and the mindset that it takes to win in this league night-in and night out,” Brooks said. “That third quarter was good defensive basketball and the offense was clicking because the ball was moving.”

“We started to contest the shots,” Perkins explained. “We were scrambling all over the place and we just picked it up.”

The most rewarding part of the evening for Brooks and company was that those staples of Thunder basketball and the things that have made the team so successful this season all stayed intact. There are talented, intelligent and selfless players up and down the Thunder’s roster, and tonight the team showed that each man sacrifices for the good of the whole when the team is at full strength, but when needed, every player has the ability to step up and produce.

“We just had to stay together and come together,” Lamb explained. “We just tried to play as a team. That was huge.”

TURNING POINT:

The Thunder’s lead was at a precarious four points at 55-51 with 8:43 remaining in the third quarter, but an emphatic 22-4 burst by the Thunder’s starting unit put the game out of reach for the Celtics. The run began with consecutive buckets for Thabo Sefolosha, a three-pointer and a fast break layup. Reggie Jackson then got into the act with a jumper then two free throws after getting fouled in transition. Sefolosha then tipped in a shot at the rim before a Perry Jones steal set up an Ibaka layup.

The Thunder forward then proceeded to score on a dunk off a Jones pass and then on a hook shot in the lane. Jackson followed that up with a driving layup plus the foul shot before Jeremy lamb capped the run with a jumper off a Derek Fisher pass. By the time the run was over, the Thunder led 77-55 with 1:16 left in the period.

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

Repeated pump fakes by Serge Ibaka gets his defender on his heels and himself a layup. Thabo Sefolosha comes over to double team twice in one possession to disrupt a Celtics possession by knocking the ball away both times. Great vision by Perry Jones to find Kendrick Perkins down low on a diagonal pass to help draw a foul. Sefolosha slaps the ball out of a Celtics’ offensive rebounder’s hands and into Perkins’. Beautiful back door bounce pass by Nick Collison gives Jeremy Lamb a wide open look at the rim.

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

Well executed play on the Thunder’s first possession of the second half gets Ibaka wide open in the corner for three. Strong straight-up defense in the post by Perkins forces a missed shot by the Celtics. Jackson jumps a passing lane and Jones is there to scoop it up and dish it back to Jackson to start a fast break. Great execution on an in-bounds play by the Thunder to get an easy dunk. The Thunder defense moves and rotates for a full possession, eventually causing a turnover.



“Going into the game I knew we were going to accept the challenge. One of the things about our team is we play hard every night. We take pride in playing hard no matter who is on the floor.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks

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