Game Recap

7 Turnovers for the Thunder on the night, in comparison to 16 assists

8 Lead changes in the game, which also featured 12 ties. Only one lead change occurred after the first quarter, when the Thunder made its big run

9 Rebounds for Kendrick Perkins on the night, including eight on the defensive end

13  Rebounds for Kevin Durant, including 12 on the defensive end

31 Points for Kevin Durant in the game, including his game-winning three-pointer

32-20  Point differential in the Thunder’s favor during the fourth quarter, including a 25-9 run to finish the game

37 Points for Russell Westbrook for the game on 15-for-26 shooting

49.4 Shooting percentage by the Thunder on the night, including 6-for-16 from three point land

        
GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
Again down 13 in the fourth quarter in the 2012 Playoffs, the Thunder made a ferocious comeback on an opponent’s home floor to get the win. In Game 4 against the Dallas Mavericks the Thunder reeled off a big run to close the game, and did the same in Game 4 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Thunder trailed 91-78 with 7:45 remaining at the Staples Center in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semi-finals against the Lakers, but rallied back resiliently to get over the hump and break a seven-point barrier that seemed to keep them at bay from the middle of the second quarter through the middle of the fourth quarter. Utilizing a 25-9 run to end the game, including a clutch, game-winning three pointer by Kevin Durant with 13.7 seconds remaining, the Thunder earned a 103-100 victory.

“The win was an amazing win,” guard Russell Westbrook said. “Everybody kept fighting, we all believed in each other.”

Westbrook was the Thunder’s engine on the night, reeling off 37 points, including 23 in the second half to keep his team in the game and within striking distance. It was Westbrook’s maturity, along with 15-for-26 shooting, that gave the Thunder a chance to win.

“Coming into this year, I wanted to try to help my team and become a better leader,” Westbrook said. “Kevin has done a great job of helping me out with staying positive regardless of what’s going on throughout the game, giving me confidence, and that’s just how I feel during the Playoffs.”

Westbrook also had five assists on the night, his last one setting up a Durant turnaround jumper with 1:54 remaining that gave the Thunder its first tie since the 2:19 mark of the first quarter. After trading buckets with the Lakers, Durant sized up the Lakers defense at the top of the key, and drained a 25-footer.

“I sat up there and just tried to look at the whole picture of the floor and get the best shot possible,” Durant said. “I had been going to the rim and they were doing a great job of swiping and contesting at the rim, so I saw (Metta World Peace) back up just a hair, and I shot it.”

It wasn’t just Durant’s 31-point offensive output on 10-for-18 shooting that saved the day, it was his 13 total and 12 defensive rebounds and his presence defending Kobe Bryant late in the game that changed things. Durant’s length can be a factor, particularly down the stretch. Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks has a variety of defenders to throw at Bryant, from Thabo Sefolosha to James Harden, but elected to go with Durant late.

“(Durant) wants to guard him, we like playing Thabo, James and Kevin on him,” Brooks said. “With about three and a half minutes to go, I made the decision. I thought it was the right thing to do at that time. Kobe was making shots like he seems to always to do and I thought Kevin did a good job of using his length and bothering him and making him shoot with more arc.”

The fact that the Thunder trailed by 13 points didn’t seem to faze them shows a remarkable level of maturity for a young team that is still growing and learning to win big Playoff games in hostile road environments. Coach Brooks settled his team down during timeouts throughout the game, but even players Durant and Westbrook could be seen problem-solving together on the floor during breaks or free throws.

“With our group, we all communicate with one another,” Brooks said. “Obviously, I’m the guy leading it. I like to communicate with our guys and sometimes it’s difficult communication or tough communication, but the guys understand where my heart is and I understand where their heart is. We try to tell it like it is and they want to get coached. We coach them and coach them hard and expect them to play at a certain level.”

A combination of intelligence, poise and passion is what the Thunder strives to use as its model for success. Communicating with one another is one step, and having the fight and resilience to never give up even in the face of a large deficit against a very good team is the extra ingredient. Tonight, the Thunder had all of those things working in the fourth quarter, which pleased its coach.

“I feel good about the group that we have,” Brooks said. “They work, they fight, they battle, they play the entire game… We’re up 3-1 but it’s not over. It takes four wins to win this series and we understand that. It’s important to take every game and take advantage of it and play your best.”

Turning Point The Thunder turned the game around in the fourth quarter, out-scoring the Lakers 25-9 in the final 7:45 of the game. Trailing 91-78, Derek Fisher hit a big three pointer, then Kevin Durant knocked in two free throws, Russell Westbrook scored nine straight points, then Westbrook stole the ball to hit Kevin Durant for a jumper to tie the game. After that, Kendrick Perkins made a tip-in to give the Thunder the lead, which Durant followed up with a steal and the dagger three point basket. During that whole stretch, James Harden played solid defense on Kobe Bryant, and finished the game out with two win-sealing free throws. Bryant shot 2-for-10 in the fourth quarter, and the Thunder closed its big run with a 103-100 win.

“The last six minutes we got some stops when we needed to, got out in transition and got some easy buckets and obviously Kevin hit that big three to take the lead,” Harden said. “But our resilience, we didn’t play well, but the last six minutes of the game we showed how we really played.” “The will to win,” Harden continued. “In those last six minutes we closed the game out strong and got the win.”

Plays the box score won’t show, first half Nice offensive set as Thabo Sefolosha finds Serge Ibaka for a jumper after Kevin Durant draws multiple defenders… Durant comes off a screen then Ibaka sets a screen that frees up Sefolosha for a driving layup… Great defensive possession by the Thunder to force a 24-second violation, then Russell Westbrook drops one off to Ibaka for a jumper… Solid defense and a good rebound by Durant after a box out, then Westbrook slinks into the lane and gets all the way to the rim… Nice two man game between Ibaka and Durant, freeing Durant for a jumper… Quick hands from Ibaka to slap a steal to Durant, then Ibaka cleans up a miss… Westbrook banks one in, then Perkins boxes out and comes up with a defensive board… Durant hustles down a rebound, then runs the floor for a layup… Durant and Fisher’s defense combine to make a steal, then Nazr Mohammed makes a block to end the quarter… Nick Collison sets up James Harden with a three pointer on a side pick-and-pop… Good box out from Durant, then Westbrook hits Derek Fisher for a pump fake then bank shot… Big offensive board by Collison, who gets it to Westbrook for two foul shots… Harden and Collison pressure Bryant, helping Durant get a steal which led to two free throws for Harden… Ibaka with a big swat then Harden sends the ball up court to Durant for a dunk… Solid defensive effort to force a Lakers miss at the end of the shot clock, then Durant with a nifty finish at the rim with his left hand… Big block by Ibaka at the rim leads to a Harden to Westbrook fast break dunk.

Plays the box score won’t show, second half Good, solid defense by Westbrook to stay down on a pump fake, then Ibaka makes a block that leads to a Durant three pointer… Strong box out from Perkins on the defensive boards then Westbrook saves a sure layup with a foul… Nice pick from Ibaka to set up a Westbrook three pointer, then beautiful passing from Durant to Perkins to Ibaka for a layup… Ibaka comes up with two offensive boards on one possession and puts it in, then good hustle by Ibaka again on the glass to draw a foul on Gasol… Somehow Westbrook spins the ball into the hoop, then he gets to the rim again… Good defensive pressure leads to a Sefolosha steal, then Durant snags a loose rebound and hits a three pointer… Big box out by Durant on a missed free throw… Ibaka makes two big blocks at the rim, then Westbrook races down to the other end on the fast break… Great defensive possession for the Thunder to force a deep miss, then Harden drives and dishes an alley oop to Ibaka… Fisher dishes to Ibaka for a jumper out of an inbounds play… Big three pointer by Derek Fisher off a drive-and-dish, then Perkins uses his strength to come up with a defensive board… Another strong box out by Perkins, leading to a Westbrook jumper… Westbrook hustles in the lane to get an offensive board then nails a midrange jumper… Big board by Perkins on the defensive end, leading to a Westbrook layup and the foul… Great defense by Durant to force a missed shot, then another solid possession to force a miss and draw two foul shots… Solid defense by Perkins to force a miss, then Durant draws a foul while rebounding on the defensive end…Good defense to force an airball at the end of the shot clock, then Durant hits a turnaround jumper to tie it up… Perkins boxes out for another huge rebound, then tips in an offensive board… Durant makes a steal, then pulls up for a huge three pointer!... Harden comes up with a big rebound off a missed three pointer that Durant contested to end the game with two free throws.

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