NUGGETS113
THUNDER115
3 Blocks for Serge Ibaka who also added six points, seven rebounds and four assists

7 Assists for Russell Westbrook, who also scored 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds

13-for-27 Three-point shooting numbers for the Thunder, including 4-for-6 shooting from Thabo Sefolosha and Jeremy Lamb

14 Points for Reggie Jackson who also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out two assists

25-16 Second chance points for the Thunder, who snagged 19 offensive rebounds

32-21 Amount by which the Thunder outscored the Nuggets in the fourth quarter

38 Points for Kevin Durant in addition to eight rebounds, six assists, a steal and a block

53-45 Rebounding advantage for the Thunder, who had six players grab five-or-more rebounds

GAME IN REVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
Nov. 18th, 2013
RECAP:

When players like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka get three chances at the bucket in one possession the final minutes of the game, it’s a safe bet that the ball will go through the hoop.

With Monday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets tied at 105, Ibaka grabbed back-to-back forceful offensive rebounds off of Westbrook misses, keeping the possession alive and eventually getting the ball to Durant at the top of the key. The Thunder’s perennial All-Pro forward did what he does best, draining a three-pointer to give the Thunder a precious 108-105 edge with just 1:26 remaining. After trailing by as many as 14 and by 12 in the fourth quarter, Durant’s bucket blew the roof off of Chesapeake Energy Arena, and helped guide Head coach Scott Brooks’ team to a 115-113 come-from-behind victory.

“We’re very prideful and we’re going to keep fighting until the last possession,” Brooks said. “That’s always been a trademark.”

After a Kenneth Faried free throw made the Thunder’s lead just 108-106 with 39.9 seconds remaining, Westbrook made the play that sealed the victory, splitting a screen and crossing up the big man in front of him to sneak right the rim for a layup, making it 110-106 Thunder with just 22.3 seconds left. The way Westbrook picked his spots to attack, distribute and let Durant go to work throughout the game is what set up his final bucket, capping a 30-point, 12-rebound, seven-assist night for the point guard.

“He was patient throughout the whole 4th quarter and as soon as he saw an opening he just went and made a great move and great finish,” Durant said. “That kind of bust the game open for us at the end going up four with 20 seconds left. It was just a free throw game after that, but he made big plays all night.”

While Westbrook’s attacking play capped the night for the Thunder, it was Durant’s steady scoring throughout the night, particularly at the free throw line, that kept his team in it until it clamped down on the defensive end in the fourth quarter. Durant scored 38 points on the night to go with eight rebounds and six assists, and played all 24 minutes of the second half as he and his teammates executed on both ends of the floor. On the offensive end, the Thunder assisted on seven of its nine fourth quarter baskets prior to Westbrook’s drive and layup, which earned praise from the head coach after the game.

“We were making shots and we worked on our spacing a couple of shootarounds ago and today,” Brooks said. “Locking in on our spots and running them hard, not worrying about the shot because the team will get a good shot. I think we’ve done that tonight. We’ve done a better job taking care of the basketball so that’s why we had 90-something shots tonight.”

On the other side of the ball, the Thunder hunkered down on defense and held the Nuggets to just 21 fourth quarter points on 28.6 percent shooting, while forcing three turnovers and just committing one of its own. Showing a wall in transition and only allowing two fast break points in the fourth quarter helped the Thunder force Denver to play in the half court against a set defense, which in turn forced missed shots and led to a 19-10 rebounding advantage for Brooks’ club in the final frame.

“We were just getting back,” Westbrook said. “They were in attack mode and we kind of got them under control in the 4th quarter.”

In the future, the Thunder wants to display its defensive intensity for the entire 48 minutes, but its glad that tonight it has the personnel and personalities in the locker room to shake off adversity and make enough plays to win down the stretch.

TURNING POINT:

The Thunder trailed 97-85 with 11:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, a tough lead to break through against no matter who the opponent. Over the ensuing four minutes however, the Thunder used a 12-2 burst to cut the Nuggets lead to just 99-97, and no team built more than a four-point lead the rest of the way. It started with a drive and dish from Kevin Durant to Nick Collison for a dunk, then continued with two Durant free throws and a fast break layup off a pass from Reggie Jackson. After Russell Westbrook’s pull-up jumper, the Thunder point guard nailed a three-pointer off a Jackson dish and then hit Durant for a turnaround jumper to make it just a two point game with 7:25 remaining.

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

Strong box out by Kendrick Perkins on Kenneth Faried to keep him away from the offensive glass. Incredible one-on-one defense by Thabo Sefolosha to almost singlehandedly force a shot clock violation. Well drawn play out of the timeout by Scott Brooks to free up Sefolosha for a three-pointer. Collison hustles and forces a jump ball, which he wins. Jeremy Lamb stays active and knocks the ball away, letting Sefolosha get the steal. Nice helpside defense by Perkins to force a turnover.

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

Great work by Sefolosha to be in the passing lanes and alert on a back-door cut. Good awareness by Russell Westbrook to push tempo and attack the rim in transition when he had the advantage. Smart move by Durant to draw a foul on a rip-through move with the Thunder in the bonus. Impeccable one-on-one defense by Durant to force his man into a bad shot at the end of the shot clock. Collison commits a smart foul to prevent a sure dunk and save two points. Incredible post defense by Derek Fisher against a much bigger man to fight for position and force an offensive foul. Unreal hustle by Westbrook to dive on the floor for a loose ball in a crucial moment.



“I’m proud of our guys and that fourth quarter. We really locked in and did a much better job playing inspired basketball for one another.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks