9 Blocked shots by the Thunder, including three from Serge Ibaka and two from Steven Adams
12-for-27 Three-point shooting numbers for the Thunder
14 Number of both points and rebounds for Serge Ibaka
31 Points for Russell Westbrook, who also racked up eight assists
40 Points in the second quarter for the Thunder, the most in any quarter this season
48-37 The Thunder’s rebounding advantage on the night
48.9-42.7 Differential in shooting percentages in the Thunder’s favor
Dec. 21st, 2013
Oftentimes, it is the team who can keep an even keel throughout a 48-minute stretch that comes away victorious.
In a tough road environment against one of the most battle-tested and mentally tough opponents in the NBA, the Thunder took every play in stride and prevailed because of its composure and attention to detail. In a 113-100 victory on Saturday night over the San Antonio Spurs, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club used a 40-point second quarter, its highest scoring period of the season to take control of the game, then a 9-2 burst in the fourth quarter to slam the door on San Antonio.
The Thunder was led by both the scoring of Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson, who combined for 52 points, but also their ability to keep the Thunder within its game plan on both sides of the ball for all four quarters.
“We did a good job of just keeping our heads above water,” Westbrook said. “We never got too low and never got too high. We played consistent and played our game.”
On the night the Thunder held ultra-efficient Spurs offense to just 42.7 percent shooting from the field, while out-rebounding San Antonio by 11. Serge Ibaka took charge on the glass, racking up 14 rebounds and also made an impact around the rim by making three of the Thunder’s nine blocked shots on the evening.
As a full five-man unit, the Thunder’s defense rotated, helped one another out and prevented the Spurs from getting wide open looks. With each Spurs run, Brooks reminded his team of their core defensive principles, and his players responded by executing.
“Just keep inspiring each other on the defensive end,” Brooks said. “If your teammate needs help, you have to help out. We did that tonight at a high level on both ends. We were moving the ball and trusting the pass.”
“Our defense was good because we trusted one another,” Brooks said. “We were anticipating the problem.”
After the Thunder made stops, it created positive possessions nearly every time down court thanks to the leadership of Westbrook, who racked up 31 points on 13-for-22 shooting, dished out eight assists and only made three turnovers. By getting the Thunder into its offense early, finding teammates and relentlessly attacking the paint, Westbrook gashed the Spurs defense to find easy scoring opportunities for himself and others.
“He’s an All-Star and playing like one every night,” Brooks said. “He makes us go with his effort, with his toughness, with his team mentality and the last couple of years, the game has slowed down. He sees so many things on the floor. He does a great job of running our sets and does a great job of leading our defense.”
With Westbrook on the floor and off of it, his point guard partner Jackson was equally as aggressive as he put together his second impressive night against San Antonio – totaling 21 points, four assists and three rebounds. The Thunder’s bench as a whole combined for 44 points thanks to Jackson’s ability to control the flow of the offense, and the unit as a whole made important pushes in the second quarter and fourth quarter to stop Spurs runs and extend the Thunder’s lead.
With Jackson at the helm, the Thunder got high percentage looks each trip down floor as he, Derek Fisher and Jeremy Lamb made plays on the perimeter and Nick Collison and Steven Adams battled in the paint.
“Reggie is having a good start to the season,” Brooks said. “He’s a guy who can finish around the rim. He’s doing a good job of making decisions and getting guys involved. Defensively, he’s improving.”
The Thunder had built a double-digit lead by halftime, but the Spurs continued to push back, eventually drawing within three points at 87-84 with 9:41 left in the game. Jeremy Lamb hit a three-pointer on the next possession, sparking a 9-2 run that broke the game open for good. After a Spurs bucket, the two teams traded stops until Jeremy Lamb hit Nick Collison for a reverse layup, then the second-year guard found Reggie Jackson for a runner before Collison added two free throws to make it 96-86 Thunder with 6:49 remaining.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Nice work by Thabo Sefolosha on the defensive glass to slap the ball out of Tiago Splitter’s hands. Perfect screen by Kendrick Perkins to give Russell Westbrook a lane to the bucket. Reggie Jackson slaps the ball off of his defender to regain possession for the Thunder. Kevin Durant keeps his hands up in the passing lane to deflect a pass and allow a teammate to make a steal. Beautiful passing in transition by Jackson, Durant and Westbrook to create an open layup.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Excellent team help and recovery to force the Spurs into a shot clock violation. Great eye contact and communication from Perkins and Durant to set up a back-door cut and dunk. Steven Adams plays expert post defense then sets up Westbrook for a layup with a screen in transition. Serge Ibaka hustles and saves the ball in-bounds to regain possession. Nice help defense by Ibaka to force Tim Duncan into a bad pass. Incredible recovery by Adams on defense to swat a shot and save a layup. Durant dives out of bounds to save the ball and get possession back.
“We’re playing together and making the extra pass. We’re defending and most importantly we’re doing a great job of just playing together.” – guard Russell Westbrook