10-for-13 Shooting numbers for Serge ibaka, who racked up 26 points and six rebounds
10-for-22 The Thunder’s shooting numbers from behind the three-point line
11-6 The Thunder’s advantage in second chance points on the night
12 Assists for Kevin Durant, tying a career-high and part of 25 for the Thunder
18-for-19 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder on the night
29 Points for Kevin Durant, including 15 in the first quarter
50.7 Shooting percentage for the Thunder, including 8-for-15 from the field for the bench
Feb. 7th, 2014
There’s a reason why the Thunder’s goal is to play its hardest for the entire 48 minutes. Sometimes, NBA games come down to even the last tenth of a second.
On a night where the Thunder got out to a 36-23 lead by the end of the first quarter and shot 50.7 percent from the floor, it came down to a lack of execution on the defensive end of the floor in the second half that led to a tough 103-102 loss to the Orlando Magic on a buzzer-beating transition dunk.
Up by one point with 28.9 seconds remaining after a Magic miss, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club had the ball with a chance to hit a bucket to put the game out of reach. Kevin Durant drove right and pulled up from 19-feet out, but his jumper clanged off the back iron.
A mad scramble for the ball put Reggie Jackson and Thabo Sefolosha slightly out of position as the Magic snagged the long rebound and pushed it ahead in transition. Two passes later, Tobias Harris slammed home a three-on-one dunk with less than a tenth of a second remaining, leaving the Thunder with a bad taste in its mouth.
“When the game is on the line, you have to do whatever it takes to get that play stopped,” Brooks said. “Give them credit. They played to the last tenth of a second. They deserved to win.”
While the last play will stick out as one the Thunder could have controlled to hang on to a road victory, Brooks, his coaching staff and the entire roster knows that tonight’s loss was the result of an accumulation of possessions that weren’t executed properly or didn’t go Oklahoma City’s way.
Over the course of the night, the Thunder allowed 52 points in the paint and 26 points off of 16 turnovers, the result of far too many easy looks at the basket after disjointed offense or defense that lacked communication.
“It’s easy to look at the last play,” Brooks explained. “There are a hundred plays on both ends of the floor that are just as important and you have to play them with everything you have and not worrying about the next play, but worrying about staying in the moment and focusing on that play.”
The Thunder hangs its hat on the defensive end, but tonight in Orlando, it didn’t quite have its normal intensity. By allowing 47.5 percent shooting and 10 offensive rebounds to just 11 turnovers, the Thunder’s typically aggressive group didn’t force the Magic into enough mistakes or difficult shots to create stops.
One bright spot on defense was the Thunder’s nine blocked shots, led by Serge Ibaka’s five, in addition to his 26 points on 10-for-13 shooting. Durant paced the Thunder with 29 points in addition to a career-high-tying 12 assists, but the Thunder’s turnover totals prevented it from getting enough looks at the rim as the team attempted just 73 field goals on the night. After those turnovers, the Thunder’s transition defense could have been better, as could its rotations in its five-man shell.
During an 82-game season, these road losses are bound to happen, but for a Thunder team that strives to remain vigilant for every minute of the long season, tonight was a good reminder that defense is what helps the team sustain success over the course of the year.
“The defensive intensity wasn’t there,” Brooks said. “They were shooting 50 percent most of the game. We didn’t do a good job executing down the stretch on either end of the floor.”
“We were just a step slow,” Durant explained. “They got into the paint and hit some shots. They got it going. You can’t play like that and give a team confidence at home. You give them some hope.”
The Thunder led by eight heading into the fourth quarter, but the Magic went on an immediate 8-0 run to start the period to get back into the game. Three straight Thunder turnovers and four straight missed shots led to easy offensive possessions for the Magic, which were finished either off of an assist or at the free throw line. Kyle O’Quinn hit a jumper, Victor Oladipo made a layup and E’twaun Moore finished a layup after an Oladipo steal before Mo Harkless and O’Quinn each hit a free throw to tie the game at 88 with 9:13 remaining.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Kevin Durant uses his jab step and ball fake to leave his defender on his heels and free himself up for a jumper. Slick backdoor cut by Reggie Jackson to get open under the basket, and a nice bounce pass by Durant to feed him for a bucket. Jackson launches a full-court pass down to Durant to set up a secondary break opportunity. Durant pump fakes and uses a quick bounce pass to get Serge Ibaka an easy look under the rim. Incredible full-court pitch-ahead pass by Durant places the ball in Jeremy Lamb’s hands for an easy bucket in transition. Beautiful ball movement on the perimeter frees up Perry Jones for a corner three-pointer. Durant pressures an in-bounds pass and forces a turnover just before halftime.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Impeccable timing between Jackson and Ibaka on a side pick-and-roll that leads to an easy Ibaka dunk. Kendrick Perkins operates out of the high post and waits for his best option, making a pass to Thabo Sefolosha who hits Ibaka for a three-pointer in the corner. Perfect screen by Perkins out of a timeout to get Durant an open jumper. Collison prevents an Orlando run out by tipping an offensive rebound to a teammate. Jones hustles back in transition to close out on a shooter and force a turnover. Incredible team defense by the Thunder to force a 24-second violation coming out of the timeout. The Thunder’s defense stays strong and forces a five-second inbounding violation.
“We always talk about being focused for 48 minutes for 82 games a year. We just have to come back better. We have a great opportunity Sunday to bounce back.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks