WIZARDS 105
THUNDER 106
4 The number of fast break points the Thunder allowed to the Wizards, who came into the game as one of the best in the league in transition

6 Assists for Kevin Durant on the night, to go with 33 points and 13 rebounds

7 Rebounds for Reggie Jackson, who also had 12 points and four assists

20-4 The amount by which the Thunder outscored the Wizards in second chance points

25 Points for Serge Ibaka on 11-for-18 shooting, in addition to 12 rebounds and three blocks

31-23 The amount by which the Thunder outscored the wizards in the fourth quarter, as the team shot 65 percent and outrebounded Washington 13-2.

42-30 Points in the paint differential in the Thunder’s advantage

58-41 Rebounding edge for the Thunder on the night, including a 16-7 advantage in offensive boards

GAME IN REVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
Nov. 10th, 2013
RECAP:

When its back is against the wall, especially in front of the fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Thunder brings its highest level of intensity, matching what it receives from the crowd.

In a dizzying barrage on offense that was coupled with stifling defense, the Thunder erased a 10-point deficit to the Washington Wizards over the final three minutes of regulation, with a Kevin Durant three-pointer sending the game into overtime. In the extra frame Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club continued battling, eventually executing on enough consecutive possessions to seal a 106-105 victory.

“That was definitely a resilient win,” Brooks said. “It was that never-quit mentality that we’ve always believed in and that’s what happened tonight. We just battled and battled and battled and gave ourselves a chance to win down the stretch.”

Coming into the game the Thunder had three objectives in mind, and on Sunday night it was able to complete two out of the three with great success. While Brooks’ squad allowed the Wizards to knock down its average of 12 three-pointers at 41 percent clip, it took care of business when it came to rebounding and getting back in transition. In fact, thanks to a 13-2 effort on the glass in the fourth quarter, the Thunder outrebounded Washington 58-41, and by making Wizards guard John Wall see a line of defenders, it held Washington a stingy four fast break points on the night.

“It (rebounding) was really key because they have two big guys who can rebound,” forward Serge Ibaka said. “In the first two quarters, we were doing a great job on defense but they were getting all the rebounds. After we figured that out, every time we got the rebound we were running on offense.”

“That (limiting fast break points) was really big,” guard Jeremy Lamb said. “We knew they had quick guards and liked to get out. Holding them down on the break was a huge part of the game.”

It took a team effort to execute on the game plan that Brooks presented to the team, and there is a level of maturity evident when teams can evaluate strengths and weaknesses of opponents, and then capitalize on those areas. Durant was his ever-effective self, scoring 33 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and handing out six assists, but it was the intensity and activity of Serge Ibaka that was also a major factor tonight.

On both ends of the floor Ibaka played with force, especially on defense as he was blocking three shots and doing a superb job when isolated against Wizards guards on pick-and-roll switches. On offense he was also a handful, racking up 25 points on 11-for-18 shooting, while also snaring four offensive rebounds that helped the Thunder score 20 second chance points. His assertiveness was evident and the experience he’s gained in crunch time situations helped Ibaka come through late. Even though the ball hadn’t gone in at the clip he’s normally accustomed to early this season, Ibaka’s confidence has never wavered.

“I was just focused on being aggressive,” Ibaka said. “The last two weeks I had some tough games because I was being aggressive but nothing was working. I work every day so I keep being aggressive, and tonight was the night.”

“(Serge) was just playing with aggression,” guard Russell Westbrook said. “He did a good job of staying with it, rebounding the basketball, going up strong and finishing.”

Ibaka wasn’t the only one whose determination and effort impacted the game. Throughout the evening the Thunder got positive contributions from Perry Jones who scored five points and added five rebounds in 14 crucial minutes. Jeremy Lamb knocked down a massive three-pointer to help the Thunder pull within three late in regulation, and Reggie Jackson was poised and sure-handed down the stretch as he guided the Thunder’s offense, notching 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

“I’m so proud of Jeremy Lamb, Reggie, Serge and Perry Jones,” Durant said. “Those guys came through and made some huge plays for us. They were able to get us back into the game and set me up for the shot to take it into overtime. After that, they played so hard on defense. They played inspired basketball for everybody. Those guys really won the game for us.”

“Those guys did a great job all summer competing and just playing their game and being confident,” Westbrook said. “Jeremy hit a big shot and Perry hit a few big shots. You can go down the line.”

It was an all-around team effort that allowed the Thunder to come from behind in this contest, and without its internal resolve, this home win might have gone differently. As the team hits the road for a challenging three game road trip, Thunder leaders want to replicate the inspired basketball it showed in the fourth quarter and overtime and display it for a full 48 minutes each night. There is plenty to be proud of in the Thunder locker room, but also just as much to improve upon moving forward.

“That last three minutes was some of the best basketball I’ve seen out of us since I’ve been here,” Durant said. “I’m very proud with how we played at the end of the game. We have to be better, but that was a good stepping stone for us.”

TURNING POINT:

Chesapeake Energy Arena has been host to some major momentum swings over the past five-plus years, but Sunday night’s 14-4 run to end the fourth quarter and send the game into overtime was one of the most impressive it has seen.

Trailing 92-82 with just 3:01 remaining in the game, Serge Ibaka forced John Wall into a turnover, then Reggie Jackson started the spurt with a pull-up jumper after coming off a curl. After forcing a Wall miss, Jackson fed Ibaka in the post, and the big man hit a turn-around jumper to cut the Wizards lead to six. After a long miss by Washington, Jackson pushed the ball in transition, finding a wide open Jeremy Lamb on the wing for a massive three-pointer. Afer forcing another missed three-pointer, Kevin Durant drove and hit Serge Ibaka with a bounce pass for a dunk to make Washington’s lead just one point.

Ibaka grabbed a strong rebound on the offensive end for a put back between two tough Wizards made jumpers. With the game clock winding down inside 15 seconds, Durant sized up his defender at the top of the key and drained a three-pointer, making it 96-96 with 13.6 seconds remaining. One defensive stand later and the Thunder was headed to overtime.

“We just showed a lot of resiliency and came back and played as a team the last three minutes and that was pretty special,” guard Thabo Sefolosha said. “We were able to execute our game plan defensively pretty well and that kept us in the game throughout. We fought back in those last minutes and that was good.”

“I saw the opening and coach trusts me with that shot no matter what,” Durant explained. “I was fortunate to get that one to go in.”

PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:

Perfect one-on-one defense by Kendrick Perkins on Marcin Gortat to force him into a long jumper at the end of the shot clock that missed badly. Slick backdoor pass by Perkins to hit Kevin Durant on a cut for a layup. Excellent box out by Serge Ibaka to keep his man off the glass. Perry Jones stays physical to draw an offensive foul on his opponent. Jones plays stout defense on the perimeter to force a difficult missed jumper at the end of the quarter. Reggie Jackson times an alley-oop pass perfectly and picks it off. Incredible hustle by Russell Westbrook to get around a screen and slap the ball away.

PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:

Savvy defense up top by Perkins to force his man into a double dribble. Westbrook sticks with the play and comes flying in for an offensive rebound to keep possession alive. Excellent team defense for an entire possession results in a Wizards 24 second violation. Incredible hustle by Steven Adams to get back in transition and block a potential layup. Westbrook makes a smart play to slap the ball off of his opponent’s leg out of bounds to force a turnover. Huge defensive stand by the Thunder to force overtime as Ibaka contested on a much smaller man.

PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, OVERTIME:

Perfect timing on a help in the post and then a great closeout by Ibaka to force a turnover. Incredible toughness down low by Ibaka to snag an offensive rebound and then put it back. Quick hands from Durant to block a shot and turn it into a steal and two free throws.



“The crowd was huge. They’re loud, they’re screaming at the other team, they’re encouraging us, so to have crowd like that at home they really gave us energy and energized us and pulled us through.” – guard Jeremy Lamb

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