12 Assists for Russell Westbrook in addition to 19 points and eight rebounds
31 Points for Kevin Durant on an efficient 10-for-13 shooting from the field
31 Points for the Thunder off of 19 Lakers turnovers
41.4 Shooting percentage the Thunder held the Lakers to on the night
45 Bench points for the Thunder, led by 19 from Reggie Jackson, 11 from Jeremy Lamb and nine from Perry Jones
59-41 Rebounding edge for the Thunder, who racked up 20 offensive rebounds
122 Points for the Thunder, a season-high, thanks to a season-high 34 assists
Dec. 13th, 2013
On the very first play of the game, rookie guard Andre Roberson squared up defensively against Kobe Bryant. By keeping his hands up and staying active, Roberson grabbed hold of the ball, tying up Bryant and not only forcing a jump ball but also setting the standard for defensive intensity from the start.
In the Thunder’s 122-97 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club continued its streak of consistent defensive performances by holding the Lakers to 41.4 percent shooting and it stemmed from high-energy plays like the on Roberson showed early.
“I wanted to come in and set the tone,” Roberson said. “I take on the challenge and accept the role and do what I can to help the team win.”
On the night the Thunder forced the Lakers into 19 turnovers that led to 31 Thunder points, but it was the way the Thunder defended with discipline and cohesiveness that was so apparent from the opening tip to the final buzzer. Coming into the game the Thunder was locked in on preventing the Lakers from getting hot behind the three-point line, a category that Los Angeles has had a ton of success with this season. When the night was through, the Thunder had held the Lakers to just 7-for-25 (28.0 percent) shooting from behind the arc, and out-rebounded Los Angeles 59-41, using those glass cleanups to create 18 fast break points and early offense opportunities.
“We have certain keys that we want to make sure that we go into the game and accomplish throughout the game,” Brooks explained. “Tonight’s gameplan was really to show a lot of activity on the basketball and also to get back into transition and cover the three-point line. We did that tonight.”
“We did a good job of making them feel us on the defensive end by being physical and getting deflections and steals and getting points on the other end,” forward Kevin Durant said.
Those chances in transition helped the Thunder put up one of its best offensive nights of the season, racking up season-highs of 122 points and 34 assists while getting five players into double figures and shooting 47.5 percent from the field. Kevin Durant paced the team with 31 points on a smooth 10-for-13 shooting night, while Russell Westbrook’s near triple-double of 19 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds allowed teammates like Serge Ibaka (19 points, 10 boards) to find simple scoring opportunities. The mental connections these Thunder teammates have with one another have been developed over the years, and were on full display Friday night.
“We were just moving the ball and doing a good job of spacing and getting guys lanes to attack, then we were finding open guys,” Westbrook said.
“I know when I need to space, when I need to roll and when I need to cut or go for offensive rebounds,” Ibaka explained. “I try to mix it up a little bit to stay active and get some touches on offense.”
While Durant notched five assists, Kendrick Perkins, Reggie Jackson and Steven Adams combined for 11 more helpers. The pace and tempo of the Thunder offense, however, was set by Westbrook, who in 30 minutes dictated the flow and put teammates in position to succeed.
As a team leader and point guard, Westbrook has a pulse on which of his teammates are feeling it and how he can get each player involved in the offensive game plan, highlighting their skill sets. Westbrook has dished out at least nine assists in each of his last four games, so tonight’s performance was just a continuation of his penchant for spreading the wealth on offense.
“Sometimes you have to take yourself out of the picture and notice the bigger picture of the game,” Westbrook said. “Serge, Kevin and whoever is in the game with me like Andre, I want to keep their confidence high. That’s my job as a point guard and I’m going to continue do that.”
The Thunder jumped out to a 13-point first quarter lead, but after the Lakers pulled to within six points with 8:41 left in the second quarter, Brooks’ team responded with a run that put it in control for good. At 44-36, the Thunder rattled off 12 straight points to make it 56-38 with 5:18 remaining. It started with a Reggie Jackson short jumper and then a tip in before Kevin Durant scored on a reverse layup plus a foul shot.
After a Durant block, Russell Westbrook hit him for a three-pointer and then a Durant steal turned into a Westbrook fast break layup to cap the run. During that stretch, the Thunder forced the Lakers into ten straight missed shots and a turnover. The Lakers never got closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Andre Roberson ties up Kobe Bryant on the first Lakers’ possession then wins the jump ball. Nice push-ahead pass by Kevin Durant to get the ball to Serge Ibaka for a pump-fake then jump shot. Great hustle by Steven Adams to dive on the floor for a loose ball to create an extra possession. Durant gets back in transition defense and swats away a shot at the rim to back up his teammate then he saves the ball in bounds. Incredible execution by all five guys on the floor to get a wide open jumper for Durant in the corner. Kendrick Perkins sprints down court to prevent a Laker from running open in transition.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Perkins sets a perfect screen to set up Durant for a wide open jumper to start the half. Excellent one-on-one defense by Roberson to force a difficult missed shot by Bryant. Wonderful non-verbal communication between Westbrook and Roberson on an alley-oop. Ibaka dives on the floor to get a loose ball and kicks it ahead to Westbrook for a layup.
“We were just moving the ball. Everybody wanted to touch it and we were just trying to find a good shot. Russ was the catalyst for us getting by into the lane and finding guys. We just tried to finish for him.” – forward Kevin Durant