5 Blocks for Serge Ibaka on the night as the Spurs shot just 22-for-47 in the paint

5-for-7 Jeremy Lamb’s shooting numbers, as he scored 12 points thanks to 2-for-3 shooting from the three-point line

8 Assists for Russell Westbrook on the night as the Thunder racked up 24 assists

23 Points for Reggie Jackson tonight on 10-for-14 shooting, including 14 fourth quarter points

24 Rebounds combined for Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, as they also combined for 41 points

25-15 Third quarter score differential in the Thunder’s favor as it held San Antonio to 25 percent shooting

39% Shooting for San Antonio on the night, including 7-for-27 shooting from three point land

51-45 Rebounding advantage in the Thunder’s favor


Nov. 27th, 2013

The first half was a full-fledged defensive battle, and when its shots started falling in the second half, the Thunder’s steady defense helped it break away.

In its 94-88 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club battled through a first half where both teams shot under 42 percent from the field. Once the basket opened up in the third quarter when the Thunder shot 12-for-24 from the field, the defense tightened up even further as Brooks’ squad broke away with a 25-15 third quarter edge.

“We wanted to come out at halftime and play a little better,” Brooks said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well in the first half but I liked our defensive effort and that’s something we can continue to build on because it’s all about our effort on the defensive end to create opportunities for the offense. Then in the third quarter we were making shots.”

The Thunder’s defensive effort was consistent throughout the night, regardless of whether shots were dropping into the hoop on the other end of the floor. It started with containing the ball on the perimeter, and then protecting the rim with interior defense.

Serge Ibaka led the way with five blocked shots, which only scratched the surface of the impact he had contesting shots in the paint. Against the potent Spurs offense, Ibaka and company denied shots in the lane while perimeter players like Kevin Durant hustled out to contest shots on the perimeter.

“Our defense was really good,” Durant said. “It’s just a combination of us using our length, making second and third efforts and just playing hard.”

“When we make mistakes on the perimeter, we know our big guys are there to have our back,” Durant continued. “That’s what trust is about and that’s what a team that has been together so long, we have that trust.”

On the offensive end, Durant and Ibaka combined for 41 points, while the duo also helped snag 24 rebounds. The biggest punch, however, came from the Thunder’s bench unit, which put up 39 points led by Reggie Jackson’s career-high-tying 23 on 10-for-14 shooting, and a smooth 12 points from Jeremy Lamb on 5-for-7 shooting.

Opposing defenses have to deal with the ever-attacking Russell Westbrook and hyper-efficient Durant, but the Thunder also has a bench unit that plays well cohesively and has two playmakers in Jackson and Lamb.

“We’re just another athletic backcourt that is always in attack mode trying to find shots for ourselves and others,” Jackson said. “I just attacked the gaps. We just kept trying to attack and get in the lane and make passes for the next man.”

Jackson and Lamb’s nights were paired with not just Durant and Ibaka’s production, but an all around effort from all ten men who saw the floor. Regardless of how many minutes each man played, there was a level of defensive intensity and a commitment to selfless offense that was pervasive in each man’s actions on the floor.

Whether it was Nick Collison taking charges, Thabo Sefolosha spacing the floor and fighting through screens or Kendrick Perkins and Steven Adams setting screens, each player was vital to the Thunder’s win.

“We showed a lot of character tonight,” Perkins said. “We did a pretty good job of locking in defensively top to bottom. Everybody came in and gave us something positive. Sometimes you have to take an ugly win, but it was a grind out win. I thought we dug deep.”


There was a turning point in this one, and then a stretch where the Thunder slammed the door. Trailing by one at 52-51 with 8:08 remaining in the third quarter, Serge Ibaka hit a jump shot off of a Russell Westbrook pass that kick-started an 8-0 Thunder burst. After the Thunder forced the Spurs into a shot clock violation and two missed shots, Kevin Durant hit a jumper and then found Thabo Sefolosha for a shot on the wing. The Thunder defense forced another turnover which led to a fast break dunk by Durant on a pitch-ahead pass by Westbrook, giving the Thunder a 59-52 win.

The Spurs kept pushing back, ultimately pulling within three at 79-76 with 6:46 remaining in the game. After four straight possessions for each team that ended without a bucket, Serge Ibaka put back his own miss on a tip in to spark a 7-1 run that put the game away. A Kawhi Leonard free throw followed, but Reggie Jackson hit a jumper that Kevin Durant followed up with an and-one floater in the lane, giving the Thunder an 86-77 lead with 2:56 remaining.

“It was just getting defensive stops and getting back and trying to keep our transition,” Jackson said. “We know they move the ball around really quickly and they get up the floor and get open shots so our defense is what sparked us.”


Serge Ibaka gives amazing effort around the rim to affect multiple shots on the same possession to force misses. Kendrick Perkins works hard on the defensive end to tip a rebound to Thabo Sefolosha. Great work by Jeremy Lamb to race out to his man at the three-point line to contest a shot. Strong defense by Derek Fisher to force a turnover, then Steven Adams sets a firm screen to free up Lamb for a jumper. Kevin Durant, Reggie Jackson and Ibaka do a nice job of communicating on defense to work around a switch. Great fight by Russell Westbrook to front Tim Duncan in the post and make a steal.


Incredible hustle by Westbrook to get back and dive on the floor for a loose ball to save a sure layup. Stout defense by Perkins and Sefolosha to force a 24 second shot clock violation. Perkins’ quick hands force a loose ball then Ibaka impacts shots at the rim before diving on a loose ball to prevent a Spurs fast break. Lightning quick pass off of eye contact from Westbrook to Durant helps draw a foul. Perfect defensive sequence for the Thunder ends in Collison drawing a charge.

“Our defense was outstanding I think the last three or four games we’ve put a string of defensive efforts and defensive performances we can continue to build on… I thought our guys did a good job with our length making them miss shots and I thought the defense was the key tonight.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks