22-8 The Thunder’s advantage in second chance points, where it shot 7-for-11
24-for-28 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder, including a perfect 9-for-9 from Serge Ibaka
27 Points for Serge Ibaka, a career-high, on 9-for-14 shooting
29-21 The amount by which the Thunder outscored the Warriors in the fourth quarter
31 Points for Russell Westbrook on 13-for-20 shooting, in addition to nine rebounds and five assists
48-31 Rebounding advantage for the Thunder, led by Serge Ibaka’s 13 boards
51 Shooting percentage for the Thunder, including a 9-for-22 effort from the three-point line
Nov. 14th, 2013
OAKLAND – With the game on the line, Russell Westbrook stood and delivered. Unfortunately for the Thunder, the Golden State Warriors’ Andre Iguodala followed suit just seconds later.
In every game, but especially on the road against a tough opponent, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club wants to put itself in a position to have a chance to win the game in the closing minutes. Tonight, in the Thunder’s 116-115 loss to the Warriors, the game came down to that final stretch.
After clawing back from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to make it a two-point game, the Thunder got a much needed stop with just 12.9 seconds remaining. Kevin Durant grabbed the defensive rebound and without hesitating to call a timeout, he pushed the ball ahead and got it to Russell Westbrook, who stepped up and nailed a 29-foot three-pointer that splashed through the net with 2.3 seconds remaining, giving the Thunder a one-point lead. The clutch three-pointer was a capper on Westbrook’s impressive night, where he scored a game-high 31 points while adding nine rebounds, five assists and three steals.
“(Russ) is a big game player,” Durant said. “He had it going all night. As soon as he let it go, it looked good. Coach did a great thing by not calling timeout and letting us go. They kind of got off balance a little bit. It was a great shot.”
“We’ve come to a place where we can attack without calling timeouts,” Brooks said. “Kevin had an opportunity to attack and then they did a good job of guarding it. He threw it to Russell. Russell makes big shots. That’s what the great players do in this league.”
Out of the Warriors’ timeout after Westbrook’s shot, the Thunder clamped down on the Warriors most prolific scorer, Stephen Curry, and accounted for the in-bounder Klay Thompson. With a hand in his face, however, Iguodala caught, turned and hit a difficult 16-foot fadeaway jumper as the final buzzer sounded, erasing the Thunder’s valiant comeback.
“He made a tough shot over a contested hand,” Brooks said. “Unfortunately, it went in. That’s what good teams do.”
Iguodala’s jumper may have sealed the Thunder’s fate on this night, but there were plenty of bright spots on the evening in addition to Westbrook’s performance. Serge Ibaka was a force on the interior and on the perimeter throughout the night, shooting 9-for-14 for a career-high 27 points, while also grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds, including five on the offensive end. Ibaka’s efforts helped the Thunder to a 48-31 rebounding edge and a 22-8 advantage in second chance points.
“He’s been doing well because he’s letting the game come to him,” Durant explained. “He’s playing pick-and-roll, popping and knocking down the shot, catching, dunking and playing around the rim… He’s a great shooter, a great finisher and a great offensive rebounder. He’s playing off his teammates right now and he’s playing some great basketball.”
Ibaka and Westbrook’s sensational play covered some of the areas where the Thunder must improve moving forward. Specifically, Brooks’ club will work on its three-point defense, which allowed 14-for-23 shooting from the Warriors, and turnovers, where the Thunder had 19 giveaways and only seven takeaways on the evening. Regardless of those miscues, the Thunder played with resilience, immense effort and togetherness that allowed it to overcome difficult circumstances. There was no doubt in Brooks’ mind that facing a double-digit fourth quarter deficit wouldn’t faze his crew.
“They’ve been together for a while now and that’s how they play,” Brooks said. “They play hard every possession. It’s not always going to be pretty, but that’s what the good teams do.
“They always figure out a way to make it a two-minute game, and that’s what we did tonight,” Brooks continued. “It came down to the last two minutes. Both teams made amazing plays at the end, but that’s what good teams do, they make plays down the stretch.”
The Thunder trailed by 13 at 108-95 with just 6:16 remaining in the contest, but a furious charge late made this one an exhilarating finish. Reggie Jackson started the burst with a pull-up jumper and then found Kevin Durant for a three-pointer to suddenly pull the Thunder within three possessions. The Thunder forced two straight misses and got a block from Serge Ibaka before he cleaned up a miss on the offensive glass with a put back, plus a foul shot.
Stephen Curry for the Warriors made two free throws to give the Warriors a 109-103 lead with just 3:36 remaining, but great ball movement gave Thabo Sefolosha a three-pointer from the corner, pulling the Thunder within three at 109-106. The Warriors would build the lead back to six with 2:14 remaining and to four with 49.6 seconds left, but Over the final two minutes the Thunder got enough stops, converted free throws and played with enough heart to give itself a chance to win.
“(The mentality) was just keep playing and keep being aggressive, and we got stops when we needed them,” Durant said. “They just hit one more shot than we did. It was a tough shot. You have to give credit to them and we have to move on.”
“We got some stops,” Westbrook said. ”They tried to take advantage of the switching and it kind of slowed them down a little bit. It slowed their pace down, we played a lot faster and I think that helped us out a lot.”
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Serge Ibaka fights in the lane amongst multiple players to grab a defensive rebound. Excellent ball movement by the Thunder to make four passes to get a wide open corner three for Thabo Sefolosha. Reggie Jackson dives on the floor for a loose ball to draw a jump ball. Russell Westbrook pulls Reggie Jackson aside while Derek Fisher chats with Jeremy Lamb during a dead ball to give the young players some advice.
PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Perfect screen by Steven Adams to free up Westbrook for a jumper on the wing. Nice job by Westbrook to keep his hands up in the passing lane to create a loose ball and a steal. Jackson hustles to a loose ball and tips it to Durant to regain possession. Great fight by the Thunder to tip a defensive rebound around and corral it to regain possession. Excellent passing and spacing creates another three-pointer from the corner for Sefolosha.
“It was a great NBA basketball game. It was playoff intensity in November… They’re a great team. You couldn’t ask for a better game. Unfortunately somebody had to lose.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks