10 Blocks for the Thunder on the night, led by Serge Ibaka, who had three to go with 15 points and eight rebounds
12 Assists for Kevin Durant, a career-high, part of his fourth-career triple double featuring 32 points and 10 rebounds, in addition to four steals and four blocks
27 Combined points for Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb, in addition to seven rebounds and six assists
29-19 Advantage in fast break points for the Thunder, including a 12-4 edge in the second half
35-20 Fourth quarter scoring edge for the Thunder, as it held Minnesota to 6-for-23 shooting
56.3-41.6 Difference in shooting percentages in the Thunder’s favor
58-40 Point differential in the Thunder’s favor in the paint, where the Thunder shot 29-for-40 and the Timberwolves shot 20-for-40
Dec. 1st, 2013
Every night, the Thunder gets a spark from a different place.
On Friday night it was the inspired energy of Russell Westbrook, and on Sunday in the Thunder’s 113-103 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, it was the two-way effort by Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb and the Thunder’s second unit that propelled Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club to victory. The Thunder trailed for nearly the entire contest, taking its first lead on a three-pointer from Lamb early in the fourth quarter. Despite having to fight back, a 27-7 fourth quarter offensive explosion and defensive lockdown made sure the Thunder prevailed.
“I thought the defense in the second half was outstanding,” Brooks said. “We were getting into the basketball and we weren’t giving anything up easy, and then we were taking care of the basketball… I thought the bench came in and did a good job.”
On the night the Thunder held Minnesota to just 41.6 percent shooting including a stout 36.2 percent over the final three quarters. On both ends of the floor, units that included Jackson and Lamb stymied the Timberwolves’ perimeter playmakers, while the duo combined to score 27 points while adding seven rebounds and six assists.
In fact, 11 of Jackson’s 18 points came in the fourth quarter, when his ability to break down defenses with his ballhandling and attacking style creates an extra gear the Thunder can go into, even with other playmakers like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the floor. The Thunder’s bench outscored the Timberwolves 39-23 on the evening, making the Thunder 9-1 when its bench puts more points on the board than its opponents’ reserve unit.
“(Reggie has) to pick and choose (his) spots but I think the key is just making the right decisions,” Brooks continued. “There are times where he has the ability to drive and he has to attack the floor space and there are times where he has to pass it. He is really developing that part of his game with knowing how and when to make the right decisions.”
“We want (Reggie) to be aggressive going to the rim and that’s what he does best,” Durant said. “Tonight is another example. He’s been playing well and we need him to stay that way and we know he’s going to help us out.”
“They’re coming into their own and being confident every time they step on the court,” Durant said of Jackson and Lamb. “Jeremy Lamb is playing his role to a T. He’s being aggressive like we need him to and he’s making shots. We just have to keep giving him confidence and keep encouraging him.”
While Durant was encouraging his younger teammates to play to their best abilities within the framework of the team, he was also able to put together an unprecedented stat line, which impacted all areas of the floor. Durant notched 32 points on 14-for-21 shooting while adding a career-high 12 assists, 10 rebounds, four blocks and four steals.
On the offensive end, Durant was seemingly everywhere, creating for himself and his teammates. The dynamic playmaking ability of the Thunder’s perennial All-Pro forward not only allows for a personal offensive explosion, but his mere presence facilitates offense for the other four players on the floor.
“I was aggressive to score and to pass and just trying to make the right basketball play,” Durant said. “My teammates made me look good a few times when I threw bad passes, and everybody stepped up tonight.”
“When he gets going, it just opens up easy spots for us to attack,” Jackson explained. “You can’t really help off him, and after he gets doubled, we’re just playing four-on-three.”
The Thunder’s core belief is that the way it plays defense is its number one priority, and that can dictate how it executes on offense. For that reason, Durant’s versatility on the defensive end may be equally as crucial as his plethora of offensive abilities.
The Thunder forward showed against the Timberwolves he can be a helpside defender, he can switch onto guards and defend his own man on and off the ball, giving Brooks and his staff more options to choose from in terms of player groupings and rotations. As a result, the Thunder can be equally as dynamic and powerful on the defensive end as it is on the offensive end.
“He has the ability to have large scoring nights with rebounding, assists, steals and blocked shots,” Brooks said. “He’s one of the few guys that can do that. That’s what makes us a good defensive team because he can guard not only his man but multiple positions, like a lot of our guys.”
The reserve unit sparked the Thunder late in the third quarter through the fourth quarter, as the Thunder turned a seven-point deficit into a 13-point lead over the course of nine minutes of action thanks to a 27-7 run. The Thunder trailed 83-76 with just seconds remaining in the third quarter, but pulled within five on two Nick Collison free throws.
Including the final possession of the third quarter, the Thunder then rattled off five straight stops on the defensive end, which presented easier opportunities on offense, resulting in three-pointers from Kevin Durant and Jeremy Lamb, then three-straight buckets by Reggie Jackson, which gave the Thunder a 91-87 edge with 8:50 left in the game.
Another Durant three-pointer was aided by a Derek Fisher pull-up jumper, a Serge Ibaka old fashioned three-point play and two more Jackson baskets to help the Thunder build a 103-90 lead with just 3:47 remaining in the contest. During that stretch, the Thunder’s defense forced the Timberwolves into 2-for-14 shooting from the field.
“We got into them, we touched them up and we didn’t let them run where they wanted to run,” Durant said. “We were bumping them and we were physical. We need to do that all game.”
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Strong post defense by Kendrick Perkins to force a difficult shot that missed. Russell Westbrook smartly slaps the ball out of Kevin Martin’s hands to create a fast break for the Thunder. Kevin Durant hustles back in transition and slaps the ball away to prevent a layup. Westbrook tips out an entry pass back to Durant to prevent Minnesota from making a steal. Nice job by Steven Adams to knock away an entry post pass to disrupt Minnesota’s flow. Perfect pocket pass from Durant to Serge Ibaka for the easy dunk then an incredible one-handed bounce pass from Thabo Sefolosha to Durant in transition creates an easy bucket.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Sefolosha stays active in the passing lane by keeping his hands up, slapping at a ball to create a fast break chance for the Thunder. Ibaka sets a screen for Durant on a pin-down to free him up for jumper. Determination on the defensive end by all five Thunder players forces a Minnesota shot clock violation. Incredible defensive recovery in the screen-and-roll by Collison to get back and box his man out off a miss. Jeremy Lamb keeps a play alive by tipping his own miss multiple times, eventually finding Durant. Such an intelligent screen by Fisher in transition to free up Durant for a jumper. Westbrook anticipates an outlet pass and seeks it out to prevent a Timberwolves fast break.
“I love loud city. They keep us going. The crowd is great. We’ve got a great crowd that our players don’t want to let down.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks