11 Rebounds for Serge Ibaka to go with 17 points on 8-for-13 shooting
19 Points for Kevin Durant, who led all scorers, in addition to nine rebounds, two assists and two steals
22-15 Fast break points advantage for the Thunder, where it led 19-4 through three quarters
36 Bench points for the Thunder, led by 15 from Jeremy Lamb and 13 from Perry Jones
46-28 The Thunder’s edge in points in the paint, where it held Utah to just 10 in the first three quarters combined
46-33 The Thunder’s rebounding edge, including 19 boards from the bench
50.7-39.4 The edge for the Thunder in shooting percentage on the night
Nov. 24th, 2013
Only a few seconds had run off the clock, but on the opening defensive possession of the Thunder’s 95- 73 win over the Utah Jazz on Sunday night, Thabo Sefolosha helped set the tone for the entire game.
Sefolosha’s man, Gordon Hayward, curled sharply around a screen, but by staying physical and taking the right angles, Sefolosha stayed connected. In forcing him to change his route, Sefolosha caused a bad pass, resulting in a Utah Jazz turnover.
As the 12 minutes of the first quarter wore on, the Thunder continued to shut down the Jazz in similar fashion. In fact, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ squad held Utah to just 13 first quarter points en route to a defensive effort that held the Jazz to 39.4 percent shooting and 18 turnovers. It all started with Sefolosha’s defense on Hayward, who only had five points on 2-of-9 shooting while turning it over six times in 25 minutes.
“We wanted to have a good start,” Sefolosha said. “We were able to do that with our defense, feeding off of the energy all of us had on the floor and the building gave us.”
“Thabo was outstanding tonight guarding Gordon,” Brooks said. “He’s a guy that doesn’t stop moving on the offensive end, but Thabo really stayed with him and didn’t give him a lot of space and freedom to roam and operate with a high level of comfort.”
Coming into the game, the Thunder knew the Jazz scored over 45 percent of its points in the paint, one of the higher figures in the NBA. As a result, Brooks’ squad made a concerted effort to keep the Jazz out of the lane, both on post-ups, dribble penetration and in transition. The result was emphatic, as the Thunder held the Jazz to just 10 points in the paint and four fast break points through the first three quarters.
Thunder players credited strong communication, a commitment to getting back in transition and also getting high quality shot opportunities on offense to its ability to keep Utah out of the paint.
“We really wanted to lock in on the transition defense aspect of the defense and I thought we did that tonight,” Brooks said. “We got back on defense, we matched up, and we didn’t give them a lot of opportunities easily.”
“We were really focused from start to finish,” Sefolosha said. “We put a good game together. That was important, especially in front of our home crowd.”
By getting consecutive defensive stops and holding the Jazz to just 43 points through three quarters, the Thunder was also able to get easier chances on the offensive end. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 19 points in just 26 minutes, while Serge Ibaka put together a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds in 30 minutes of play.
Off the bench, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones combined for 28 points on 12-for-20 shooting as the bench unit racked up 36 points, 19 rebounds and ten assists. Jones only played six combined minutes in the Thunder’s previous three games, but he personified the Thunder’s ever-vigilant approach by staying ready and playing hard when Coach Brooks needed him.
“All I have got to do is be ready when coach calls my name,” Jones said. “Just go out there and do what I know I can do, and go out there and do what I’ve been working on.”
The Thunder had already steadily built its lead to 12 points throughout the first two quarters, but an 8-0 burst to end the first half put the game completely out of reach for the Jazz. With the score at 39-27 with 3:04 remaining, Kevin Durant got to the free throw line, knocking down both, before Reggie Jackson made a steal and turned it into two points. After forcing two missed jumpers on defense, Serge Ibaka snagged an offensive board and slammed it home and then hit a turn-around jump shot in the lane off of a Durant pass in the lane, making the score 47-27 with 47.5 seconds left in the half.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Thabo Sefolosha hustles to get around a screen, chasing his man, which forces a turnover on the opening Jazz possession. Nice anticipation by Reggie Jackson to jump back into the passing lane to knock away an outlet pass. Strong post up by Kendrick Perkins and a nice entry pass by Sefolosha to get his teammate a dunk. Pretty pump fake by Serge Ibaka to draw his man and then drive to the hoop. Derek Fisher hustles back in transition defense to draw a charge. Excellent ball movement at the end of the first quarter to make four passes to get Perry Jones a wide open corner three-pointer
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Great second effort by Ibaka to stick with a defensive play to save a basket with a block and then immediately get into position to force another miss. Nice anticipation by Kevin Durant to stay in the passing lane by keeping his arms up, then he drops off a slick pass to Ibaka in transition. Gritty play by Kendrick Perkins to force a turnover while defending in the post.
“Our defense was very good tonight, the last two games really. The intensity level on the defensive end was good and it’s something that we talk about and continue to build on that end of the floor. Offensively, I thought we passed the ball very well.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks