KNICKS 100
THUNDER 112
4 Steals for Thabo Sefolosha, in addition to 12 points aided by 2-for-3 shooting from the three-point line

6 Assists for Reggie Jackson compared to just one turnover, in addition to 19 points

8-for-11 Shooting numbers for Serge ibaka, leading to 16 points, nine rebounds and three assists

11 Rebounds for Kendrick Perkins, a game-high as the Thunder out-rebounded New York 41-38

15-4 The Thunder’s advantage in fast break points, where it shot 5-for-6 and held New York to 1-for-7 shooting

28-12 The Thunder’s assist-to-turnover numbers, led by Kevin Durant’s nine assists

41 Points for Kevin Durant on 12-for-22 shooting, in addition to ten rebounds

54.8 Shooting percentage for the Thunder, compared to the 44.2 percent shooting night for the Knicks

GAME IN REVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
Feb. 9th, 2014
RECAP:

Creating an easy shot is just as rewarding as knocking it down, and for the Thunder so is denying an opponent a clean look at the basket.

Thanks to a 10-0 burst to start the third quarter and some lock down defense in the second half, the Thunder beat the New York Knicks 112-100 to move to 41-12 on the season. Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club got contributions from every man who saw court time, led by Kevin Durant’s 41-point, 10-rebound, nine-assist masterpiece and aided by four other Thunder players who reached double figures.

More importantly, however, the defensive intensity ramped up in the second half, stifling any chance of a comeback because the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith were limited to 22 points on 8-for-29 shooting.

“We did a very good job defensively in that second half of going out there and competing,” Brooks said. “Thabo (Sefolosha) did a good job on Smith and (Durant) did an outstanding job on Carmelo. Those are two guys who are not easy to guard.”

Sefolosha set the tone early on Smith, making two of his four steals on turnovers by the New York guard, both of which led to fast break opportunities, where the Thunder outpaced the Knicks 15-4. Durant’s defense was particularly impressive, and more of the same from the Thunder All-Star who influences the game on both ends of the floor. Chasing him on the perimeter, using his length and staying active helped Durant hold Anthony to just 5-for-19 shooting and zero points in the fourth quarter, when the Thunder ran away with this one.

“(Durant) impacts the game defensively,” Brooks said. “He made his shots difficult. He didn’t get a lot of clean looks. We did a good job on team defense of guarding him. We were collapsing on his dribble. But Kevin did a great job. Kevin has length and it is hard to shoot over his extended arm.”

“I try to play as hard as I can, contest his shots and not get discouraged when he hits them,” Durant said. “I tried to rely on my teammates. They did a great job of helping me out and building a wall behind me.”

After getting stops, the Thunder’s offense flowed smoothly. Durant’s sublime scoring line has become almost commonplace, but nonetheless was remarkable. By attacking the rim, shooting off the dribble and creating catch-and-shoot opportunities by his work off the ball, Durant scored from all over the floor on an efficient 12-for-22 shooting night, while also nearly completing a triple double. The ball distribution was essential to the Thunder’s success, as it led to an 8-for-11 shooting night and 16 points for Serge Ibaka through his work in the two-man game with Durant.

“In the pick and roll we did a good job of using the screen effectively,” Durant said. “Serge gave his body up for other guys and also finished as well. Once we play with the pass, we’re unpredictable. We have to continue to make the right plays.”

On the night the Thunder racked up 28 assists, tied for its third most on the season, compared to just 12 turnovers. Reggie Jackson’s six assists to just one turnover showed patience and intelligence, as attacking led to 19 points for himself and his playmaking created crucial baskets for others, like a Sefolosha corner three-pointer that sparked a pivotal 10-0 run early in the third quarter.

All afternoon, the Thunder got to its spots early, spaced the floor and made the simple play to the open man, which resulted in 54.8 percent shooting, including 12-for-27 from the three-point line. Whether it was Jackson and Durant or Ibaka and Jeremy Lamb, who each had three assists, every Thunder player was a willing passer. As the ball hummed into the lane and around the perimeter, all it took was players stepping up and making open shots in their preferred spots on the floor.

“Thabo does a great job of getting to the corner,” Jackson said. “Once he gets to the deep corner for us, it’s hard to find him for a defender. If they help, it’s an easy rotation. The more spacing you have, the easier decisions are. We did a great job on our spacing today and it led to high assists and low turnovers.”

“That’s the staple we want every night, just being able to play like that and trust each other,” Sefolosha added.

TURNING POINT:

The Thunder’s lead was cut to a precarious point at 61-60 with 9:39 remaining in the third quarter, but a 10-0 burst broke the game open for the Thunder, helping it build a lead that would never dip below six for the rest of the afternoon. The run started when Reggie Jackson drove the lane and hit Thabo Sefolosha in the corner for a three-pointer. The Thunder then forced Carmelo Anthony into a missed three-pointer before Kendrick Perkins hit Sefolosha for a three-pointer again, this time from the opposite corner.

“We just wanted to come out and be aggressive defensively and offensively,” Sefolosha explained. “The pace was pretty good in the third and we were able to move the ball, find open guys and find good shots for ourselves.”

Anthony missed another shot, then Durant drove and dished to Perkins, who dunked it home. After forcing three more missed shots, all three-pointers, Durant again found Perkins in the lane, and the big man followed through with his one-handed push shot to make it 71-60 with 7:07 left in the period.

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

Serge Ibaka closes out on a shooter in the corner, forcing him to step back and out of bounds. Slick pass from Ibaka on a nice cut from Thabo Sefolosha for an easy dunk. Sefolosha forces the Knicks into turnovers on two consecutive possessions thanks to strong on-ball pressure. Nick Collison boxes out strong and fights for a defensive rebound to complete a stop. Beautifully executed play out of the pick-and-roll to get Collison a dunk off a Jeremy Lamb bounce pass. Derek Fisher dives into the lane and tips away an entry pass that leads to a Thunder steal.

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

Nice hesitation move in the lane by Reggie Jackson to draw two defenders for a kickout to Sefolosha for three. Perfect bounce pass to split a double team from Durant to Ibaka for a dunk. Well-timed screens from Collison at the top of the key give Durant room to pry in the lane. Incredible anticipation from Durant to leap into the air to make a steal and prevent a second chance opportunity. Slick backdoor cut by Jackson and a nice feed by Sefolosha on a bounce pass. Smart ball movement by the Thunder to create a wide open jumper for Ibaka.



“We just tried to make the right play and the simple play. If they trapped in pick-and-roll, get off of it quick. Kevin did a great job with that. His assist numbers show it. He did a lot of things for us tonight.” - guard Reggie Jackson

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