6 Total turnovers by the Thunder, a season-low, including zero in the first half
6-for-6 Three-point shooting numbers for Caron Butler, who finished with 23 points, five rebounds and two assists
7 Rebounds for Nick Collison as nine Thunder players grabbed at least three boards
16-0 The run by the Thunder to break the game open at the start of the fourth quarter
23 Points for Kevin Durant, which he scored in three quarters, ending his 41-game streak of games with 25-or-more points, the third longest in NBA history
41.5 Shooting percentage the Thunder held the Kings to, including 3-for-14 from three-point range
47-15 The Thunder’s advantage in bench points on the night
April 8th, 2014
SACRAMENTO – All it took was a little communication and one big burst, and the Thunder was able to take care of business on the road.
With a 16-0 run to start the fourth quarter, during which it stymied the Sacramento Kings for nearly six minutes on defense in its 107-92 victory on Tuesday night. Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club held Sacramento to just 41.5 percent shooting on the night and just 15 fourth quarter points, all of which came in the final 6:01 of regulation. The Thunder forced the Kings into just 3-for-14 shooting from three-point range by playing in a five-man defensive shell that communicated, got out to shooters and prevented easy drives.
“We were really active on the basketball,” Brooks said. “We were helping one another. This was the best communication we had all year. Guys really got into the talking part of the game. It helps everybody. It cleans up all of our mistakes.”
The defensive stops that the Thunder strung together were accompanied by extremely efficient offense, which featured 47.5 percent shooting, including 12-for-22 from three-point range and 23 assists. The ball protection, however, was the true key to the Thunder’s success. Brooks’ club registered zero first half turnovers and just six for the game, a season-low. Thanks to the sure-handed tandem of Reggie Jackson and Derek Fisher, who combined for 10 assists and zero turnovers, the Thunder’s offense ran smoothly.
“Tonight it was a classic example of just taking care of the basketball and not trying to force things,” Brooks said. “We’re an aggressive team. We want to get to the free throw line. We want to get into the other team’s paint... The spacing was good. We were making shots.”
“It was just keeping the ball in our hands and getting the shot every time,” Durant explained. “Reggie (Jackson) was great. Fish (Derek Fisher) was great. We just fed off of their energy. When we pass the ball like that we’re tough to stop. Everybody was touching it, it was moving and guys were passing up shots trying to get better shots.”
Kevin Durant was the co-leader in scoring for the Thunder, putting up 23 points on 8-for-13 shooting in just 31 minutes as he sat out the fourth quarter with the lead in hand. Although his streak of games with 25-or-more points ended at 41, third best in NBA history, Durant was pleased with his team’s overall effort.
That included Caron Butler, who also scored 23 points as the bench tallied 47 points and five players scored in double figures. Butler started the night shooting 5-for-6 and finished 8-for-10, including 6-for-6 from behind the three-point line.
“He came out hot and he was in a nice rhythm,” Durant said. “He played aggressively tonight. That’s what we need him to do.”
“That’s what we expect out of him,” Brooks said. “He’s a great shooter. He spaces the floor, he understands how to play and he understands where to be. He’s not hesitant on his shot.”
Every Thunder player got involved in the act tonight, including Serge Ibaka and Jackson, who combined for 32 points on 13-for-27 shooting. Jeremy Lamb added ten points off the bench, but perhaps the most encouraging contributions came from starters Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha, who both played 15 minutes as they continue to work back into the rotation. The Thunder’s veteran defensive duo is thrilled to be back in action.
“When you don’t travel with the team and you stay home and have to watch them on TV, it’s tough,” Sefolosha said. “So just being back out there and playing, that’s what we live for, just being able to be on the court playing NBA basketball. It was great.”
The Thunder entered the fourth quarter with an eight-point lead and the Kings were putting on the pressure. Over the first six minutes of the quarter, however, the Thunder’s defense was suffocating and offense sizzling. A 16-0 run turned an 85-77 edge into a 101-77 lead with 6:24 left in the game, putting it out of Sacramento’s reach.
The burst started with a Caron Butler step-back jumper, then a free throw. Nick Collison followed it up with a jumper before he freed up Jeremy Lamb for a mid-range shot by setting a nice screen. Lamb and Butler would then combine to make three-straight threes to expand the lead to 24, all three of which were set up by Collison screens. During that stretch, the Thunder’s defense forced eight straight missed shots along with a turnover.
“We just played as a team on both ends,” Lamb said. “We were talking. We hit some shots, we were able to stop them from scoring and we were able to go on a run.”
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Strong box out by Kevin Durant to free up a teammate to grab a defensive rebound. Beautiful bounce pass by Reggie Jackson after displaying patience in transition as he found Serge Ibaka for a dunk. Slick back-door cut by Durant and a nice feed from Nick Colison for a dunk. Strong interior defense by Steven Adams and Nick Collison to force DeMarcus Cousins into a travel. Good trap by Derek Fisher and Collison to force a horrible shot at the end of the clock. Durant keeps his hands up in the passing lane to force a Kings turnover. Incredible trap on the sideline by Adams and Jackson to force a turnover.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Smart foul by Kendrick Perkins to save a sure dunk. Nice hustle by Thabo Sefolosha to sneak in on the offensive glass to snag a board and draw a foul. Good closeout by Sefolosha to force his man to step out of bounds. Selfless extra passing from Ibaka and Caron Butler to find Durant for a wide-open three-pointer. Fisher scraps and claws his way to a loose ball. Perfectly set screens by Collison to set up Lamb for three buckets and Butler for one. Full team effort for 24 seconds forces a shot clock violation.
“We were encouraging each other. We were talking all game on both ends. We forced them to takes some tough shots, they hits some… We just kept sticking with our principles and got that W.” - forward Kevin Durant