15 Combined blocks and steals for the Thunder on the night
23-4 The rebounding advantage the Thunder’s bench had over the Timberwolves’ bench
27-for-28 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder
38-24 The amount by which the Thunder outscored the Timberwolves in the fourth quarter
40-5 The Thunder’s advantage in bench scoring, led by Derek Fisher’s 13 points
48 Points for Kevin Durant, the most by any player this season, in addition to seven assists and seven rebounds
48.2 Shooting percentage for the Thunder on the night
Jan. 4th, 2014
Driving left off of a screen, Kevin Durant took one look at the rim before making his move.
One more hard dribble and a lateral step gave the perennial All-Pro an opening, which was just enough for Durant to bury an 18-footer to help the Thunder complete a comeback from 13 points behind in the fourth quarter in a 115-111 road win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Durant’s second half was one of the most impressive performances of his career, as he notched 32 of his season-high 48 points over the final 24 minutes when he shot 11-for-16 from the field, including 4-for-6 from the three-point line. By both attacking off the dribble and creating space for himself off the ball, Durant put the Timberwolves defense in a bind throughout the second half, giving himself and teammates opportunities to create good looks at the rim.
Teammates Jeremy Lamb and Derek Fisher combined for 17 second half points while Reggie Jackson got the offense rolling and Nick Collison helped facilitate the flow for scorers throughout the evening. With the other four players on the floor executing their roles, all that was left for Durant was to find his shots and knock them down.
“I just wanted to be aggressive,” Durant said. “I just tried to keep our team in it. Jeremy Lamb was phenomenal tonight. Reggie, Nick and everybody was phenomenal tonight in that come back, and it was a good win for us.”
The 23-point fourth quarter for Durant was the most any Thunder player has scored in one period this year, but as Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club battled the Timberwolves throughout the night, it was a full team effort that kept them within striking distance. Fisher’s 13 points led the bench unit, which outscored the Timberwolves 40-5 on the night thanks to Collison’s two-man game with Jeremy Lamb and Steven Adams’ physicality in the paint, as the Thunder rookie registered 10 points and nine rebounds in just 16 minutes of action.
“As a team we know what Nick and Fish bring,” Brooks said. “They bring great screens, they bring toughness and a winning attitude every possession. They did a good job of keeping us close and Kevin obviously took over when needed.”
“We have a good bench,” Brooks explained. “Going into the year, we knew that they were good. We knew that they were going to better and we know that they’re going to continue to get better. Our guys believe that. I believe in all of our guys.”
The Thunder didn’t put together a perfect contest on Saturday night, but the effort was there throughout the night even if it didn’t show up in the scoring column. Lamb, the Thunder’s second-year guard, was a perfect example of the hustle, determination and grit that Brooks looks for in his squad, as he shook off an atypical shooting performance by impacting the game on a different level.
Lamb racked up a career-high eight rebounds, but his biggest play came with 30.6 seconds left and didn’t show up on the stat sheet. Lamb attacked the offensive boards after a missed shot, soaring high to draw a foul. Shaking off a hard fall that left him shaken up, Lamb buried the two impending free throws, which kept the scoreboard moving for the Thunder for one extra possession, setting up Durant’s ensuing game-winner.
“Jeremy didn’t have a very good game, but he hung in there, he kept fighting and put himself in a position to turn it around. He had some big rebounds. He made two big free throws at the end, and he made the offensive tip.”
“It’s not about making shots, it’s about playing with heart and great effort and doing whatever it takes to win,” Brooks continued. “He did that tonight with all of his minutes.”
The Thunder trailed by 13, at 92-79, with 10:55 left in the fourth quarter, but a massive charge early in the period brought the Thunder back, turning this one into a two-possession-or-less contest for the final 7:39 of action. Kevin Durant started the run with a jumper while Jeremy Lamb was being fouled, adding a free throw to make it 92-82. Durant then made a driving layup and three straight three-pointers over the Thunder’s next five possessions to suddenly bring the Thunder’s deficit to just 94-93 with 7:53 remaining. During that stretch when the Thunder went on a 14-2 run, the Thunder’s defense forced the Timberwolves into four misses on five shot attempts and a turnover.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Slick back-door cut by Reggie Jackson and a nice find by Kendrick Perkins on a laser-sharp pass for a bucket. Quick hands by Serge Ibaka as he recovers in the lane to knock away an entry pass. Excellent close-out by Ibaka on Kevin Love to prevent a three-point attempt. Beautiful bounce pass from Jeremy Lamb to Nick Collison on a roll to the rim. Derek Fisher gets position in transition defense and forces a charge. Nice duck-in by Ibaka on an entry pass to knock it away, then Steven Adams frees up Ibaka for a dunk with an off-ball screen in transition.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Durant swats away a pass to disrupt the rhythm of a Timberwolves possession. Ibaka clears out space for Fisher for a three-pointer with a strong screen at the top of the key. Excellent cross-court skip pass by Durant to find Sefolosha for a corner three-pointer. Perfect pocket pass by Durant to Ibaka for an easy dunk. Collison hustles over in helpside defense to block a shot and prevent an easy dunk. Strong double-team in the post by Fisher and Collison forces Kevin Love into a turnover. Collison slides over in helpside defense to take a charge on a crucial play.
“There are many reasons why I love our guys, and it’s the same reasons why our fans love them. They play with such a high competitive spirit and they understand it’s about the team. They don’t like to lose. We feel we can play with great effort every night and put ourselves in a position to win every night.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks