10 Steals for the Thunder as a team, including two each for four different players
13 Rebounds for Serge Ibaka in addition to 17 points and three blocks, giving him his first double-double of the season
22 Points for Russell Westbrook in addition to four assists
27-15 The Thunder’s advantage in fast break points, where the team shot 12-for-12
36 Bench points for the Thunder, led by Jeremy Lamb’s 13. All 12 players who saw action scored
44-36 Rebounding advantage for the Thunder, who out-rebounded the Mavericks 28-12 in the second half
54-42 The Thunder’s edge in points in the paint
Nov. 6th, 2013
The ball has been moving well for the Thunder this season, and on Wednesday night, that selflessness on the offensive end was rewarded with shots falling.
In the Thunder’s 107-93 victory over the Dallas Mavericks at Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Thunder racked up 28 assists while shooting 54.4 percent from the field, will all 12 players who saw action getting in the scoring column. Led by Kevin Durant’s 23 points and ten assists and Russell Westbrook’s 22 points, the Thunder pushed tempo, was aggressive and let the offense score for the individuals because of correct court spacing and constant movement. On the night the Thunder scored 27 fast break points and 54 points in the paint, two signs of an offense that is getting high-percentage looks at the rim.
“That’s what we’ve been preaching,” Durant said. “We stuck with it, we trusted in our offense and we were able to move the ball for 28 assists. That’s big time. We have to keep it up.”
“We just have to continue to play together,” Durant continued. “It doesn’t matter who scores the most or gets the most rebounds, as long as we do it together.”
Where Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team makes its hay, however, is the defensive end. Those stops and forced turnovers lead to easy offense, and that was true tonight against Dallas as the team turned 21 Mavericks turnovers into 23 points. Every Mavericks pass was made difficult and every shot was contested, leading the Thunder’s high-scoring opponent to shoot just 42.4 percent from the field and score well below its early season average. The Thunder also stayed tough on the glass, where it out-rebounded Dallas 44-36, including 28-12 in the second half.
“Our energy was good, particularly in that second half on the defensive end,” Brooks said. “We had to be on point at all positions… Our defensive effort was good. All five guys were locked in and that’s what it takes to be a good defensive team like we have been.”
“We did a good job of just being more physical,” Westbrook explained. “We touched them a lot more and it gave us opportunities to get the ball in transition.”
In a full team effort on both ends of the floor, the Thunder got vital contributions from every part of the roster. Jeremy Lamb led the bench unit with 13 of its 36 points and three assists, while Perry Jones chipped in four points, Reggie Jackson dished out five first-half assists and Steven Adams and Kendrick Perkins combined to rack up 10 points and 15 rebounds. Perhaps the most integral player for the Thunder tonight, however, was Serge Ibaka, whose tenacity on both ends of the floor impacted the game on multiple levels. His three blocked shots don’t tell the tale of the total number he altered, but the 13 rebounds helped prevent second chances for the Mavericks. On top of his efforts in the paint, he also managed 17 points on an efficient 8-for-10 shooting.
“Serge was active,” Brooks said. “Not only was he blocking, he was altering shots. That’s what we expect Serge to do. He has to rebound, block shots, contest and alter shots. He did that at a very high level tonight. And then his scoring, he’s improved in a lot of areas on the offensive end.”
Ibaka was effective all over the floor, including when he teamed up with veteran Nick Collison throughout the game to defend Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki. The duo made extra efforts on every possession against the perennial All-Star, forcing Nowitzki into a 5-for-12 shooting night and four turnovers. By getting him off his spot early in the possession and preventing him from trailing the play and spot up for three-pointers, the Thunder used both the physical and mental parts of the game to keep Dallas’ number one option in check, which earned praise from teammates.
“It was a great effort,” Westbrook said of Ibaka and Collison’s defense. “I think they did a good job of bodying him and making him take tough shots. He’s going to make tough shots because he’s a great player, but I think as a team we did a good job of controlling him.”
The Thunder led by just two at 53-51 with 2:35 remianing in the second quarter, but a burst that spanned halftime gave the team a solid cushion. It started with two free throws from Kevin Durant after a drive to the rim, then a Thabo Sefolosha steal resulted in a three-on-one dunk for Durant, ending the half. Coming out of halftime, the Thunder got a pull-up jumper from Russell Westbrook, a transition dunk from Sefolosha and an offensive putback from Serge Ibaka to build a 63-51 edge just 10:04 into the third quarter. During that four-and-a-half minute span, the Thunder went on a 10-0 run, giving the team a lead it would keep above eight for the remainder of the game. During the stretch, the Thunder forced the Mavericks into six missed shots and three turnovers.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Impeccable half-court defense by Serge Ibaka to stay with Dirk Nowitzki around screens and then contest a difficult shot. Thabo Sefolosha keeps his head up in transition to find Russell Westbrook cutting to the rim then Ibaka swats a shot off of Nowitzki. Excellent patience by Durant after a pin down to wait for the right moment to hit Ibaka with a pass. Great hands by Nick Collison to strip the ball away from Nowitzki, leading to a fast break. Quick back-door cut by Perry Jones and a perfect bounce pass by Collison to find him for a dunk. Solid defense by Kevin Durant as the clock was winding down to force a turnover.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Nice work by Ibaka to stay at the dunker spot and await a Durant pass for an easy dunk. Perfect helpside defense by Perkins to move over and rotate to contest a shot and force a miss. Steven Adams hustles down court to prevent his man from getting post position then affects a drive to the lane. Amazing fourth and fifth efforts from Collison to prevent Nowitzki from gaining post position lead to a missed shot. Incredible bounce pass by Jeremy Lamb to find Collison for an easy layup then Derek Fisher flies back in transition defense to knock the ball away.
We moved the ball well and played great team basketball. The game is always fun when you play like that, and winning is fun. – guard Jeremy Lamb