Regular Season Recap: Thunder at Spurs
5 Blocks for Serge Ibaka, in addition to 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds
6 Assists for Jeremy Lamb, tying a career-high, in addition to nine points and zero turnovers
8 Steals for the Thunder which helped the Thunder turn 17 Spurs turnovers into 20 points
10-for-18 Three-point shooting numbers for the Thunder, which shot 54.2 percent from the field
12-for-17 Shooting numbers for Reggie Jackson, who scored 27 points while dishing out eight assists with zero turnovers
36 Points for Kevin Durant on 12-for-22 shooting, making it nine straight games of 30-or-more points, in addition to seven rebounds and five assists
38-30 Rebounding edge for the Thunder, including seven for Steven Adams off the bench
48-40 The Thunder’s advantage in points in the paint
GAME IN REVIEW
By Nick Gallo, Thunder Basketball Writer
Jan. 22nd, 2014
SAN ANTONIO – Poise and confidence, like the kind emanating from Kevin Durant and Reggie Jackson, are intrinsically tied together. On Wednesday night in a 111-105 grind-out win over the San Antonio Spurs, the Thunder showed exactly how both qualities are so valuable in the NBA.
On the road against one of the most experienced and mentally tough teams in the NBA, the Thunder’s focus stayed true, its defense locked in and its playmakers put the ball in the bucket. In a final stretch where the Thunder was being pushed to the ropes by a never-say-die opponent, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team stepped up by making three late steals and then creating clean looks in a door-slamming 8-2 run in the final two minutes.
“Our guys showed a lot of composure tonight,” Brooks said. “We had a couple of times where we could have gone south, but they stayed together and fought together. This is what the group does. This is what they do and how they play. I’m proud of the guys.”
“We just stuck with it,” Durant explained. “We got some key steals when we needed it, we executed on offense and against a team like this, you almost have to be perfect late in the game.”
The Thunder stayed strong in this one thanks to another scintillating 37-point, seven-rebound, five-assist night from Kevin Durant, but also because of the precision and efficiency of point guard Reggie Jackson. The aggressive north-south playmaker put up 27 points on 12-for-17 shooting while dishing out eight assists with zero turnovers. Every one of Jackson’s 11 straight points in the Thunder’s 35-point fourth quarter were critical to the victory, as he guided the Thunder by repeatedly attacking the rim.
“We want him to play aggressive basketball on both ends of the floor,” Brooks continued. “He did a good job of finding spots on the floor where he can finish around the rim and he also did a good job of finding guys who were open.”
“They were putting two on the ball at times, so I was just trying to find the correct guy and let them take over and make the next right decision,” Jackson said. “They were making shots tonight, so the credit goes to them.”
It wasn’t just Jackson who stepped up when needed tonight. In truth, it was a full team effort and seemed to be passed along from teammate-to-teammate like a baton. With their own spurts, Serge Ibaka impacted the game with his shot making and shot blocking, Steven Adams with his hard-nosed rebounding, Perry Jones with his energy and a timely three-pointer along with Derek Fisher, who knocked down 3-of-4 three-pointers.
Perhaps the most crucial of all the contributions came from Jeremy Lamb, who scored nine points but more importantly dished out six assists without turning the ball over a single time. In the fourth quarter, Lamb hit a step-back jumper with a Durant-like degree of difficulty, then dished a beautiful lob pass to Durant for a big bucket. The Thunder’s second year guard, along with Jackson, made big plays for the Thunder to keep the scoreboard moving until it was time for the final stretch run.
“Coach is drawing up some good plays for us and we have a lot of guys who can create for others and create for themselves,” Durant said. “Lamb and Reggie did a great job tonight of just being aggressive and knocking down timely shots.”
As for the Thunder’s leader, Durant, it was yet another explosive, efficient performance as he extended his streak of scoring at least 30 points to nine straight games. Shooting 12-for-22 from the field, including 2-for-4 from the three-point line and 10-for-11 from the free throw line, Durant scored from all parts of the floor – at the rim, in the paint, on the wing and at the top of the key.
Both by using his physical gifts and playing off his teammates within the flow of the offense, Durant was clinical, aside from admittedly turning the ball over a few too many times. Regardless, his leadership and intensity was palpable and when the Thunder went on its game-clinching 8-2 run, Durant was the one who knocked down two huge three pointers to stave off the feisty Spurs.
“He scores because he’s a smart player,” Brooks said. “He scores because he has the ability to put the ball on the floor and score on different spots on the floor. He also scores because we have good players around him. If you double team, we have guys who can make you pay.”
The Thunder built a ten point lead in the first quarter, but once the Spurs reined the game back in late in the quarter, neither team held a lead larger than six points until the Thunder’s final burst put the game away. With 2:26 remaining, the Spurs pulled to within four at 100-96. On the ensuing possession, Kevin Durant missed a jumper, but Kendrick Perkins drew a foul on Boris Diaw down low by fighting for a rebound. Durant got another chance just seconds later, hitting a three-pointer with 1:59 left to put the Thunder up 103-96.
Getting back on defense was key, as Serge Ibaka then slapped the ball away from Tim Duncan, leading to a Reggie Jackson dish to Ibaka for a fast break dunk, making it 105-96 with 1:46 left. A Tony Parker jumper pulled the Spurs to within seven again, but Durant had one more bucket left in him, nailing another three to put the Thunder up 108-98 with 1:08 remaining, matching its largest lead of the game while icing the victory at the same time.
“The bigs did a great job of setting screens and I felt coming off that screen I was wide open,” Durant said of his two threes. “I just need a little bit of space to get that thing off. Tim Duncan was back a couple times on the pick-and-roll. I just wanted to pull up. I like that shot, I’ve been working on it and fortunately it went in.”
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Serge Ibaka sets back-to-back screens up top for Reggie Jackson to free him up for a layup. Nice contests on the perimeter by Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Durant force a Spurs turnover. Sefolsoha gets back over in helpside defense and blocks a shot, saving a layup. Nick Collison uses his instincts to slap away an entry pass that starts a Thunder fast break. Strong post defense by Collison forces Tim Duncan into a challenging, leaning shot. Collison then slides over in helpside defense to draw a charge.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Ibaka saves a basket with an incredibly athletic block at the rim. Steven Adams denies the passing lane into the post, preventing the Spurs’ initial offensive scheme, then Sefolosha slaps away a pass on the wing to help the Thunder get possession back. Incredible quickness by Reggie Jackson to race down court and set up a two-on-one fast break with Durant. Jackson displays great patience in transition to wait until the last second to throw a pass to Ibaka for a dunk. Adams fights and claws for a loose ball under the rim and gets the Thunder another possession.
“We’ve experienced a lot together in the last five or six years. This was just another opportunity for us to experience playing against a good team in a back-to-back situation on their floor.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks