THUNDER119
PISTONS110
9 Number of blocks and number of steals by the Thunder, led by Serge Ibaka’s three blocks and Russell Westbrook’s three steals

10 Rebounds for Steven Adams, who recorded his first career double-double with 17 points, three assists and three blocks

22 Assists for the Thunder, aided by Reggie Jackson’s six

24-14 The Thunder’s advantage in second chance points, thanks to 17 offensive rebounds

37 Points by Kevin Durant, who also had eight rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a block

39-for-44 Free throw shooting numbers by the Thunder, led by Durant’s 17-for-18 shooting

50-40 The Thunder’s edge in points in the paint, where it shot 25-for-48 and held the Pistons to 20-for-40 shooting

52-42 The Thunder’s rebounding edge on the night, with six players grabbing five-or-more rebounds

GAME IN REVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
Nov. 8th, 2013
RECAP:

DETROIT – Even when pushed onto its heels, only confidence showed on the faces of every Thunder player on Friday night.

In its 119-110 road victory over the Detroit Pistons, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ squad faced multiple opposing runs, but parried each one with a strike of its own. Coming into the game the Thunder knew that Head Coach Mo Cheeks’ team would be a tough test and wouldn’t give in. In addition, the Thunder had to contend with Detroit’s ability to rebound, score in the paint and force turnovers. Not only did the Thunder punch back with a 17-2 burst and a 7-0 run in the second half, but it also won the battle of the boards, outscored Detroit in the paint and only turned it over 13 times.

“It was a team effort,” Brooks said. “We did a great job of moving the basketball and taking care of the basketball and getting to the free throw line by attacking in transition and also our half court sets.”

While the Thunder had seven different players score nine-or-more points in this contest, the overall class with which Kevin Durant played was the difference in the game. Impacting the game on every level, Durant scored 37 points on just 15 field goal attempts, while adding eight rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a block while knocking down 17-for-19 free throws. The way the perennial All-NBA forward controlled the game isn’t a new phenomenon, but it still earned the praise of his head coach.

“Kevin is always about winning,” Brooks said. “I could not say enough good things. I could stand up here for 20 days straight and continue to talk about all the good things he brings to our team, our organization and our city. He’s a winner and he’s a leader. I’m fortunate to be coaching him.”

Durant’s sublime night was aided throughout the evening by his teammates both in the starting unit and from the bench. Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins combined for 40 points and 24 rebounds, while the bench produced 42 points, 20 rebounds and 11 assists. Everyone on the roster, from veterans like Perkins to young players like Jeremy Lamb, understands that nights like tonight, when every player contributes in some fashion, will be the key to long term success. As a result, both players, one from the starting unit and one from the bench, gave the other group credit.

“Everybody came in and contributed,” Perkins explained. “Our bench was huge tonight. Steven (Adams), Nick (Collison), Reggie (Jackson) and Jeremy Lamb, they gave us a lift that we needed. They came in and gave us some great minutes tonight. That’s what it’s all about just going out and trying to get the win. Today they stepped up big for us and came up big to get the win.”

“The starters really got us off to a good start,” Lamb said. “We just tried to come in and play hard, follow their lead and luckily we were able to knock down some shots, get some stops on defense and help them out a little bit.”

Lamb knocked down some important jumpers, including a three-pointer to close out the third quarter and put an exclamation point on the Thunder’s essential 17-2 run, but it was the play of Adams that made a big impression. Going against one of the most formidable young frontcourt tandems in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, Adams held his own for his first career double-double with 17 points, ten rebounds, three assists and three blocks. It’s still early and he will have natural ups and downs during the year, but the Thunder staff is pleased with Adams’ physicality, intensity and focus.

“Steven and Nick do a good job of playing well with each other and understanding what needs to be done by protecting our pick-and-roll coverage and the paint and rim,” Brooks said. “Steven had a terrific game. He’s getting better every day because he works hard, he has great hands and finishes around the basket.”

“It’s hard to expect that every night from him,” Brooks continued. “I like his energy and effort and that’s what I tell him. The pressure is to play hard every night and to play for your teammates every night and the stats will work itself out.”

TURNING POINT:

It was a back-and-forth affair throughout the night, but the tenor of the game changed during a four minute stretch in the third quarter as the Thunder went on a 17-2 run. Trailing 74-69 with 3:40 remaining in the quarter, the Thunder got a personal 6-0 run by Kevin Durant, starting with a driving layup and ending with a three-pointer with another free throw in between. Reggie Jackson then followed suit by scoring six straight, including two layups and a pair of free throws. To end the quarter, Durant dribbled down the clock and then fired to Jeremy Lamb, who sunk a three-pointer to put the Thunder up 84-76 heading into the fourth quarter.

“At the end of the quarter, whenever either team hits a shot, it gives them momentum, so I definitely think it gave us some energy,” Lamb said. “During that whole run we played good defense, we stayed together through their little run and we were able to go on a run of our own.”

To start the final period, Steven Adams made a hook shot, giving the Thunder an 86-76 lead, which would never dip below four points the rest of the way.

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

Smart move by Serge Ibaka to slip the screen and dive straight to the rim for an easy layup off a Thabo Sefolosha pass. Russell Westbrook makes multiple efforts on the same offensive possession to get a loose ball and then tip another one to Ibaka. Incredible mid-air decision change by Reggie Jackson in transition to pass left instead of right to help the Thunder get out into the fast break. Perfect screen off the ball by Nick Collison to free up Sefolosha for a corner three. Smart work by Westbrook and Kevin Durant to get a two-for-one opportunity at the end of the half by pushing tempo.

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

Incredible job in helpside defense by Ibaka to come over and block a shot. Great fight on the offensive glass by Steven Adams who snagged a board and dished it to Westbrook for a layup. Collison sets up Durant for a three-pointer at the top of the key with a strong screen. Durant times his end-of-quarter drive perfectly to set up Jeremy Lamb for a three-pointer at the buzzer. Quick hands by Collison to come over from the weakside to strip a big man down low. Westbrook dives on the floor on the defensive end to force a jump ball.



“A team is not just one guy or two guys, it’s the not the starting five. It’s the one-through-14 in our group. That’s what I love about our group. We’re going to keep pushing each other and my job is to find the right matchups and the right buttons to push throughout the game. Our guys off the bench did a great job. Our starters have no complaints because they’re in it to win it. That’s what we’re about. We’re about winning the game and moving on to the next game regardless of how many minutes you play.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks