Game Recap

7 and 7 Assists and rebounds for James Harden on the night, in addition to 11 points

8 Assists for Kevin Durant tonight, two in each quarter

15 Points for Kendrick Perkins throughout the night on 7-for-9 shooting in addition to his team-high nine rebounds

26 A career-high in points for Serge Ibaka on 11-for-11 shooting and 4-for-4 free throw shooting

27 Assists on the night for the Thunder, including five from Russell Westbrook and four from Derek Fisher

36  Points for Kevin Durant in the game, including 18 in the fourth quarter and a stretch of 16 straight Thunder points

41-31 Rebounding margin for the Thunder on the night, including six from Thabo Sefolosha

56.4 Shooting percentage for the Thunder throughout the night, including 22-for-25 shooting from Ibaka, Perkins and Nick Collison

        
GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
Trust is key on an NBA basketball team, and the Thunder has proved the depth of that trust over the past two nights at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The Thunder found itself in a back-and-forth dog fight against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, and it took will, desire and execution from everyone on the floor to get the job done in a 109-103 victory to even up the series at 2-2. Whether it was a combined 22-for-25 shooting from Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison or the sensational play of Kevin Durant down the stretch when he scored 16 straight fourth quarter points, Head Coach Scott Brooks' team made the right basketball play and put the ball, and trust, into one another's hands.

"We have a very good basketball team, a deep basketball team, and a team that believes in each other," Brooks said. "As you coach this group, guys step up, and guys step up at times throughout the year, and they stepped up tonight."

Through the first three quarters of the game, the Thunder had executed brilliantly on offense, with cutters finding space in the lane or players popping off of pick-and-rolls for open jumpers. That body movement led to great ball movement, and was the reason why the team had 20 assists through the first 36 minutes. Then, in the fourth quarter, the Thunder had seven more assists that led to an incredible 18-point fourth quarter by Durant, who continually posted up at the free throw line and went to work.

"We made a good effort to play together," Durant said. "We had 27 assists. That comes from moving the ball and making the right plays. I think doing that in the first three quarters kind of opened it up for me in the fourth, and I was able to make some shots. But Russell set great screens. James (Harden) made great passes. I was just trying to do my job and finish it."

The epitome of that ball movement and Durant's dedication to making the right play came when Durant had already scored his 16-straight points, taking what the defense had given him. Then, with 1:04 remaining, Durant drove and kicked it to James Harden for a huge three pointer that turned a six point lead into a nine point lead.

That drive-and-kick basketball was what paced the Thunder through the first three quarters of the game, which featured Ibaka going for a career-high 26 points on a perfect 11-for-11 shooting night, in addition to Perkins and Collison chipping in a combined 23 points on 11-for-14 shooting. Pick-and-pops found Ibaka open for elbow jump shots throughout the night, highlighted by a 12-point second quarter and eight-point third quarter, while dump off passes near the rim led to multiple dunks for others.

"Serge, Nick, Perkins and everyone else got their defense moving a lot," Harden said. "That's what it's going to take against this team. You can't be stagnant on offense because they do a good job of loading up. We have to have the ball movement and everybody scoring. Everybody did a great job tonight."

Ibaka's big night was the story for most of the game, as the Spurs did all it could to be physical with Durant, pin in Westbrook and keep wary eyes and bodies in front of Harden. As a result, Ibaka was left open in places that he's comfortable with the ball. As he said, his team did a wonderful job of finding him within the flow of the offense.

"The last two games we did a really great job as a team moving the ball," Ibaka said. "We can make some extra passes. The last two games we did a great job."

As the Thunder tends to do after every game, the team immediately turned its attention to Game 5 back in San Antonio. In order to get a win in a tough road environment, veterans like Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins talked about the importance of realizing that it's the first to four in this series, and that the Thunder must have an extremely high level of concentration and focus from now through Monday night.

"I think it's just keeping the right focus," Perkins said. "I think it's going to be hard, probably the hardest game we've ever played. So, I think we have to make sure we keep our mentality together. It's going to be tough. They're not going to give us a Game 5… I think we just have to make sure we do the right thing. All we can ask is just for everybody to leave it all out on the court and at the end of the day we'll live with the results."

Turning Point
There were two turning points in this one, with the first coming in the second quarter when the Thunder turned a 28-26 deficit with 11:40 remaining into a 43-33 lead with 4:43 left in the half. Through a James Harden reverse layup, six Serge Ibaka buckets, a Thabo Sefolosha dunk, a Kendrick Perkins put-back dunk and a Russell Westbrook three pointer, the Thunder reeled off a 17-5 run that jumpstarted the squad into a lead it would never relinquish. The defense, throughout the game, but particularly during this stretch was huge, and after the game Coach Brooks was quick to praise Westbrook for his defensive effort throughout the evening- from chasing down loose balls, harassing players off the ball or flying around the floor to contest and scramble on rotations, Westbrook was seemingly everywhere at once.

"It's winning time," Westbrook said. "Whatever you need to do to find a way to get a win, you have to do it. My job is to defend and make sure we're running the right sets offensively. That's what I try to come out and do."

The second turning point came when the Thunder was continually threatened throughout the third and fourth quarter, and the Spurs got the lead down to four for the fourth and final time. It was 90-86 Thunder with 5:29 remaining when Kendrick Perkins forced Tony Parker into a missed layup and it led to a Kevin Durant secondary break, fall-away jumper with the foul. After that the Thunder traded baskets with the Spurs thanks to two more Durant jumpers, then broke it open with an alley-oop pass from James Harden to Durant with the foul after Perkins blocked a Tim Duncan shot on the other end. With the free throw the Thunder led 100-90 with 2:48 remaining, and held on for the victory. That 10-4 run sealed the victory for the Thunder.

Plays the box score won't show, first half…
Good defensive rebounding and boxing out by Serge Ibaka and Kevin Durant, then Kendrick Perkins steps up and knocks down an open jump shot… Nice pick-and-roll with Russell Westbrook and Perkins leads to a hook shot in the lane… Westbrook boxes out and snags a defensive rebound, then Perkins picks up his own miss to draw a foul… Great ball movement between Durant, Perkins and Ibaka for an easy layup, then Westbrook contests strongly and Perkins makes a tough board… Durant drives and dishes cross court to Thabo Sefoloasha for a corner jumper, then Durant and Ibaka make a rebound that leads to a Westbrook step back three pointer… Nice defensive possession by Perkins and Nick Collison leads to a Westbrook to Perkins run out slam dunk… Good job of scrambling on defense leads to Durant tipping a rebound out to James Harden, then Perkins tips one in on the other end… Collison and Harden make a steal, then Durant dumps one off to Collison for a slam dunk… Solid on-ball defense by Westbrook on Tony Parker leads to a good Perkins box out and a Durant drive that gets him to the free throw line… Good patience by Westbrook and Harden as the ball gets dished to Collison for a lefty layup… Collison with another steal that leads to a Sefolosha follow up on a miss in transition… Durant and Sefolosha combine for a tough defensive board to end the quarter… Collison tips an offensive board out to Harden who hits Ibaka for a midrange jumper… Beautiful pass by Collison on a backdoor cut by Harden for a layup, then Sefolosha and Harden contest straight up to regain possession… Good team ball movement leaves Ibaka open at the elbow for a jumper, then Harden finds Collison open at the elbow for a jumper… Pretty bounce pass from Derek Fisher to hit a cutting Sefolosha for a slam dunk… Really great commitment to the defensive effort to make three straight stops after unlucky bounces found the ball in Spurs' hands… Crisp ball movement to make the right play as Durant hit Fisher to find a cutting Ibaka for a dunk, then Collison slaps the ball away and the Thunder gets possession… Westbrook and Durant combine to make a steal by staying wide… Perkins again comes up with an offensive rebound and put back slam, then Perkins stays active to tip a defensive rebound to Harden that leads to a Westbrook three pointer… Ibaka stays active and snags a loose ball for a dunk… Durant smartly and patiently drives and dishes off a Westbrook pass and hits Ibaka for a jumper… Wonderful defense by Perkins and Harden to force a tough contested shot at the end of the shot clock, then Durant pulls up for a jumper… Good passing again as Durant finds Perkins who gets it to Ibaka for foul shots, then Ibaka makes a massive block at the rim… Durant with yet another perfectly unselfish pass to Perkins for a slam dunk underneath, then Perkins and Fisher combine to make a tough rebound on defense before Durant pulls up for a jumper.

Plays the box score won't show, second half…
Smart work by Ibaka to stay down on Duncan's pump fake then Perkins closes out as the shot clock expires… Ibaka sets a solid screen up top for a Durant bucket to end a quick Spurs run… Durant stays alive on the boards and tips a missed free throw to Westbrook, then Ibaka takes a big dribble and slams one home… Perkins with a strong post-up move on the block for a hook shot, then Durant hits Ibaka with a bounce pass that leads to free throws… Amazing hustle on defense from Westbrook then a strong rebound from Durant after a box out… Ibaka smartly tips out a board to Durant, then Durant does the same to Westbrook the next trip down… Smart play call by Head Coach Scott Brooks as Perkins sets a backdoor cut for Durant who gets a pass from Westbrook with the foul… Incredible hustle and quickness from Sefolosha and Westbrook on a defensive possession that forced a turnover, then Westbrook hits Ibaka for a jumper… Durant finds Ibaka for another jumper in the lane… Westbrook smartly tosses the ball off Duncan then kicks it to Durant for a three, then good work by Perkins to defend Parker in the lane… Collison sets a solid screen for Durant for a bucket then Ibaka hauls in a board… Ibaka saves a play by blocking a sure layup then Collison draws a charge as the quarter closes… Durant miraculously hustles back and slaps the ball out of bounds off the Spurs, then Harden finds Ibaka for another jumper… Fisher keeps a play alive and hits Collison for a lefty layup at the cup, then Fisher draws an offensive foul… Solid screens by Collison free up Harden for a jumper, then Fisher snags a big defensive board… Durant posts up at the top of the key and hits Harden for a three pointer… Solid box out from Ibaka to regain possession, then Ibaka somehow tips in a Harden miss… Fisher's quick hands knock the ball out of bounds… Durant posts at the top of the key and somehow manufactures a bucket, then Harden hits Durant again on a curl in the lane… Perkins plays tough defense on a Parker drive then Ibaka saves the ball out to Durant for a jumper and the foul… Durant again posts up at the free throw line and hits a turnaround jumper, then Durant creates again on a drive right to the hoop… Perkins plays solid defense and Westbrook comes up with the missed shot then Harden finds Durant for an alley-oop layup plus the foul… Westbrook flying all over the court to knock the ball loose and break up the possession, then Harden hits Durant for a jumper off a pin down screen from Westbrook… Durant makes the right play when double teamed to drive, dish and hit Harden for a three pointer… Sefolosha checks in on defense and immediately makes a steal out of the timeout then Westbrook Durant and Harden make five out of six free throws to seal the win.

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