22-12 Fast break points for the Thunder, including 11 in the first quarter
33 Bench points by the Thunder, led by 15 from Reggie Jackson
36 Points for Kevin Durant on 14-for-23 shooting in addition to ten rebounds and five assists
46-29 Rebounding advantage for the Thunder, including seven from Kendrick Perkins
56-37 First half scoring differential for the Thunder as it held Indiana to 33 percent shooting
61-40 Difference in shooting percentages for the two teams on the night in the Thunder’s favor
118 Total points, the second most of the season for the Thunder, scored by ten different players
Dec. 8th, 2013
In an NBA game there are nearly 100 possessions for each team, and on Sunday the Thunder was locked in for every single one of them.
Throughout the course of an 82-game NBA season, there will be naturally slippage in performance, but there will also be nights where everything clicks. In the Thunder’s 118-94 victory over the Indiana Pacers at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team was tied on a string defensively and cohesive on the offensive end. In executing its gameplan in all phases the Thunder was not only able to shoot a season-high 61 percent from the field against the NBA’s best defense, but also hold its opponents to just 40 percent shooting from the field.
“Thabo (Sefolosha) and (Kendrick) Perkins really did a great job setting the tone defensively in the first quarter,” Brooks said. “They anchored the defense… The defensive mindset we had from the start gave us a chance to jump on them quickly.”
The Thunder used a 10-0 burst in the third quarter to build a lead, then consistently grow and maintain that advantage throughout the night. By holding the Pacers to just 8-for-23 shooting in the first quarter, Brooks’ club continually made stops and frustrated Indiana.
On the offensive end, the Thunder got out into transition and the ball moved to the tune of 27 total assists. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 62 points, 18 assists and 17 rebounds, but it was the way every single Thunder player got involved in the gameplan on both ends of the floor that was so satisfying.
“We came out with the right mindset and it was one of our better wins from top to bottom,” Perkins said. “Everybody contributed in a great way. One thing I noticed tonight is that we came out with the intention to play stat-free basketball and guys still ended up with decent numbers. When you do things the right way, things will fall in place.”
One key to developing the right flow throughout the night on both ends was hitting the open floor after forcing missed shots or creating turnovers. The Thunder scored 11 of its 22 fast break points in the first quarter alone, making a concerted effort to get out ahead of the defense, preventing Indiana from setting all five men in place before the Thunder got into its offensive sets. By taking advantage of its long, quick and skilled athletes in the open floor, the Thunder was able to get everyone a touch on the ball and create high percentage shots, as it shot a remarkable 23-for-29 in the paint.
“Pace is big for us every night,” Westbrook said. “When we play at that pace it’s going to be hard for teams to stop us.”
“We wanted to attack and we wanted to play with pace,” Brooks said. “We have game plans going into every game and we want to get a few key things. Tonight we definitely wanted to pick up the pace and play with more tempo and we did that from the opening tap.”
If Perkins and Sefolosha set the tone for the Thunder defensively, it was Westbrook and Durant who did so on the offensive end. Durant was piping hot even in the icy Oklahoma conditions from the start, shooting 6-for-7 to start the game and racking up 14 of his 36 points in the first quarter. Westbrook was dynamic as well, dishing out a season-high 13 assists and shooting 10-for-11 on two-point field goal attempts en route to 26 points.
By their teammates perspectives, however, it was more than just their statistical output that made a mark on the game, as Durant and Westbrook were major factors in the Thunder’s defensive effort that stymied the Pacers all night.
“It was his (Westbrook’s) best performance of the season,” Perkins said. “I’m not just talking about his scoring or what he did close to a triple double. I’m talking about what he was doing all over the place. Digging, getting back to his man, running people off the three-point line, jumping in the passing lanes. The little things he did tonight were through the roof.”
The Thunder broke this one open early, using a 10-0 run in the first quarter to create a lead that would never drop below eight the rest of the way. With the game tied at 4-4 with 8:41 remaining in the first quarter, the Thunder began its burst by forcing the first of seven straight missed shots by the Pacers. Kevin Durant hit a three-pointer on a fast break kick-out by Russell Westbrook, then Thabo Sefolosha took a long rebound and pushed it down court for a layup. Two Kevin Durant jumpers plus a free throw made it 14-4 with 5:56 remaining in the quarter, and the Thunder never looked back.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Perkins team up on a pick-and-roll to force Indiana into a turnover. Serge Ibaka makes a slick move in post defense to slap the ball out of his man’s hand to create a steal. Incredible team defensive possession by the Thunder to force Indiana into a tough leaner late in the shot clock. Kevin Durant directs traffic to get exactly what he wants out of an offensive possession. Wonderful on-ball defense by Reggie Jackson to force a shot-clock violation. Strong box out underneath by Perkins to free up a teammate for a rebound.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Excellent closeout in transition by Westbrook to prevent a three-point attempt and force a missed shot. Perfect defensive rotations by Nick Collison and Perkins to deny looks at the rim and force a miss. Gritty play by Collison under the rim to fight for an offensive rebound then hit Westbrook on a cut to the rim. Nice helpside rotation by Steven Adams to slap away a pass attempt.
Tonight we played a good game and we focused on us. It doesn’t matter who we play against. We just want to play hard, play tough, play OKC basketball and that’s what we did tonight. – guard Thabo Sefolosha