7 Assists for Russell Westbrook to go with 21 points and nine rebounds
8 Rebounds for Kendrick Perkins in 22 minutes of action, in addition to two points, an assist and a steal
9 Total turnovers by the Thunder, continuing a stretch of four straight games with 12 or fewer
12 Steals by the Thunder on the afternoon, including three by Serge Ibaka
18-for-19 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder on the afternoon
23 Turnovers forced by the Thunder, leading to 21 points
38 Points for Kevin Durant on 13-for-27 shooting in addition to 10-for-10 free throw shooting
April 13th, 2014
INDIANAPOLIS – Down by double digits on the road, the Thunder was in a tough spot. Head Coach Scott Brooks knew his team would find a way to make it a game, but couldn’t predict how the final minutes would play out.
The Thunder fell 102-97 to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday afternoon, but trailed by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter before chipping away then using a 7-0 burst to tie the game up with just 2:46 left in regulation. After the Thunder clawed back, the Pacers had an answer, starting with a Paul George three-pointer out of a timeout then a David West jumper and a Lance Stephenson three-pointer.
Even after the Pacers’ 6-0 response, the Thunder stuck with it, getting three-pointers from Serge Ibaka and Kevin Durant to pull within two points with 9.5 seconds remaining. The Pacers knocked down their free throws, but Brooks was proud of his team’s effort.
“One of the great things about this team that I coach is that they’re going to keep fighting, they’re going to keep competing and they’re never going to quit,” Brooks said. “When we were down by (11) points, it didn’t look good, but our group knows that we’re going to keep battling and make it a game.”
In the end, the Thunder’s comeback push was too little, too late as a result of what had transpired throughout the afternoon. From the outset, the Pacers were able to get what it wanted on the offensive end, shooting 52.8 percent from the field including 9-for-20 from the three-point line. The force on the defensive end was inconsistent for the Thunder, as the Pacers outrebounded Brooks’ club by 14 on the afternoon. Off the bench, Indiana’s CJ Watson, Ian Mahinmi and Luis Scola combined for 41 points, making the difference in this one.
“You can’t relax,” Brooks said. “Any player in this league, if you relax they’re going to score on you. We have to continue to stay focused on the defensive end and respect all the guys.”
There were some positives to take away from this one on the defensive end, as the Thunder made 12 steals, including three apiece from Serge Ibaka and Caron Butler. The Thunder as a team forced Indiana into 23 turnovers that resulted in 21 points, helping create 14 fast break points. Despite giving shooters too much room on the perimeter and allowing some easy buckets at the rim, the Thunder was disruptive to ballhandlers in this one, which gave Brooks’ squad a chance.
“When you use your hands, you give yourself an opportunity to get turnovers and it leads out into transition,” guard Russell Westbrook said.
“We knew that we had to be active with our hands, but I thought we gave them too many easy shots,” Brooks said. “You give a good basketball team some easy looks, they’re going to knock them down.”
On the offensive end, the Thunder was led by Kevin Durant’s 38 points and Russell Westbrook’s 21-point, nine-rebound, seven-assist effort. Unfortunately the ball couldn’t seem to find the bottom of the net all afternoon, as the Thunder shot just 42.9 percent, including 7-for-28 from behind the three-point arc.
As a team the Thunder only turned the ball over nine times and in the first half went 15-for-16 from the free throw line. In the second half the Thunder stopped being as aggressive in its attacks at the rim, which Brooks wants to reverse on Monday night in New Orleans against the Pelicans.
“We did not shoot the ball well throughout the game, but they’re a great defensive team,” Brooks explained. “They make you take some tough shots. In the first half we did a good job of attacking and getting to the free throw line. In the second half we only took three free throws because we were taking too many jump shots.”
The twisting, turning game changed twice, as the Thunder came back from an 11-point fourth quarter deficit to tie the game with 2:19 remaining. A 7-0 burst by Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club came in the form of a Serge Ibaka dunk, a Kevin Durant jumper in a pick-and-pop and then a Russell Westbrook three-pointer.
Just minutes later, however, the Pacers re-took the lead at 92-91 and went on a 6-0 run that put the game away. A David West jumper, then two Thunder three-point misses gave the Pacers the ball up by three with 34.2 seconds left, when Lance Stephenson hit a three-pointer to make it 97-91. George Hill added a free throw to put the game too far out of reach with too little time.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Great one-on-one defense by Kendrick Perkins to force David West to dribble the ball out of bounds. Incredible post defense by Steven Adams to front his man and deflect an entry pass away. Nice job of switching on the move by Adams to get out to the corner. Great activity by Caron Butler to keep his hands high, deflecting a pass. Good hustle by Derek Fisher to fight around screens, drawing an offensive foul. Kevin Durant tips a defensive rebound to himself, starting a fast break chance.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Excellent positioning by Ibaka and Perkins to force the Pacers into a shot clock violation, then Westbrook dives out of bounds to save a loose ball. Westbrook does a great job of fronting the much bigger Roy Hibbert in the post and drawing an offensive foul. Butler keeps his hands high again, tipping an entry pass to himself. Beautiful play out of a timeout to get Durant a backdoor layup. Pretty ball movement out of the Westbrook-Durant pick-and-roll gets Butler a corner three. Quick hands by Westbrook and great hustle by Fisher forces Indiana into a shot clock violation.
“It was tough. They had some guys that made some shots tonight. Our defense could have been better. We were down 11 with six minutes to go and tied the game up. We put ourselves in a good position, but we just couldn’t finish.” - forward Kevin Durant