THUNDER 89
PELICANS 101
6 Assists for Kevin Durant, who scored 25 points and grabbed seven rebounds

6-for-9 Shooting numbers for Caron Butler, who scored 19 points

10 Assists for the Thunder on its first ten made field goals

13 Lead changes in the game, which also featured 15 ties

13-4 The Thunder’s advantage in second chance points on the night

16 Rebounds for Serge Ibaka, who also scored 22 points and dished out a career-high five assists

18-for-22 Free throw shooting numbers including a career-high-tying 10 attempts for Serge Ibaka

34 Bench points for the Thunder, including six apiece for Derek Fisher and Andre Roberson

GAME IN REVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
April 14th, 2014
RECAP:

NEW ORLEANS – Head Coach Scott Brooks tried a number of different wing defenders in the second half to defend Tyreke Evans, but the New Orleans Pelicans had found a rhythm that couldn’t be broken.

In a 101-89 loss on the road to wrap up the second night of a back to back in its final road trip of the regular season, the Thunder struggled on both ends of the floor, shooting just 40.3 percent while fouling 22 times leading to 30 Pelicans free throws. Despite out-rebounding New Orleans and outscoring the Pelicans 13-4 in second chance points, the Thunder gave up 44 points in the paint and 18 fast break points, mostly to Evans, who finished with a career-high 41 points on 26 field goal attempts.

“We didn’t do a good job of stopping the basketball in that second half,” Brooks explained. “Tyreke got into the paint too many times. He got to the free throw line 11 times in that second half. We fouled them early and then put them on the free throw line.”

A combination of Thabo Sefolosha, Reggie Jackson, Kevin Durant, Derek Fisher and Caron Butler all saw time on the effulgent Evans on Monday night, but the Pelicans guard turned the corner and got to the rim frequently. The Thunder did get a punch in the arm from Andre Roberson’s energy and effort in the fourth quarter, when he played 6:23, scoring six points on 3-for-3 shooting while also making a steal and bothering Pelicans players on the perimeter.

“My mindset was just to come in and do my best, play my hardest and try to defend Tyreke Evans the best I could,” Roberson said. “He was hot and we tried to shut off the water. We did our best but we fell short today.”

On the offensive end, the Thunder assisted on its first ten made baskets, including all nine of its made field goals in the first quarter, but as the game went along, Brooks’ club didn’t get as many chances at the rim or the free throw line as it would have liked. The Thunder went 18-for-22 from the free throw line, including 8-for-10 from Serge Ibaka, who put together one of his most impressive individual efforts of the season.

Ibaka racked up 22 points, 16 rebounds and a career-high five assists by playing in the pick-and-roll game with Kevin Durant, who finished with 25 points. Despite Ibaka’s intensity and a lift from Caron Butler’s 19 points on 6-for-9 shooting, the Thunder never found a groove offensively and needed more aggressiveness, according to Brooks.

“We didn’t do a good job of getting to the basket and getting ourselves to the free throw line,” Brooks said. “Serge did a good job of rolling but we didn’t make our three’s tonight.”

The loss leaves the Thunder at 58-23 on the season, and still fighting for the second seed in the Western Conference Playoff picture. With a home tilt to wrap up the season on Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons, all the Thunder needs is a victory to seal the two seed. Back in the friendly confines of Chesapeake, Brooks’ club will have a chance to get back to playing with toughness on defense and force on offense in its final tune-up before the Playoffs begin this weekend.

“We’re going to learn from it like we always do and move onto the next game,” Brooks said. “We always seem to bounce back when needed, and obviously it’s a good opportunity for us to take care of business at home.”

“We want to redeem ourselves, come back even stronger and get ready for the playoffs to get right back on track and get back in tip top shape,” Roberson said.

TURNING POINT:

The Thunder trailed by one point at 80-79 with 6:46 remaining in regulation in this one, but the Pelicans pulled away with a 14-5 run that put the game out of reach. The run started on a Tyreke Evans drive-and-dish to Anthony Morrow who hit a three-pointer. After a timeout, Kevin Durant hit a free throw, but Evans hit a jumper, two of his 11 consecutive Pelicans points.

Serge Ibaka responded with a dunk, but Evans hit two free throws, a three-pointer and two driving layups to make it 94-84 Pelicans with 2:16 remaining in the game. Meanwhile, the Thunder’s offense was forced into six missed shots and a turnover during the four minute stretch.

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

Strong team defense and communication as the Thunder forces a tough, contested three-pointer as the shot clock was expiring. Slick extra ball movement as Kevin Durant hits Kendrick Perkins, who finds Serge Ibaka for a jumper. Caron Butler’s quick hands deflect the ball away and out of bounds off of the Pelicans. Derek Fisher scraps and claws for a loose ball then slaps one away to prevent a sure layup. Durant dives on the floor for a loose ball to force a jump ball.

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

Great force on the offensive glass by Ibaka to tip a rebound to himself. Ibaka’s presence in the lane prevents a layup attempt and forces a late, difficult shot by the Pelicans. Nice team defense for an entire possession forces the Pelicans to throw up a late shot at the end of the shot clock. Beautifully drawn-up play out of a timeout for a Butler corner three-pointer. Good activity with hands in the driving lane forces a turnover and a Thunder run-out. Ibaka hustles back in transition to save a sure dunk.



“We came out looking to win this game. We take every game seriously and we always have a healthy respect for our opponent, but we didn’t play well tonight and a lot to do with it was that they played better than us. We have to go back to what we do and take care of business at home.” - Head Coach Scott Brooks

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