Game Recap

9 Combined offensive boards for Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins on the night, part of 14 for the Thunder

13-6 Edge in second chance points for the Thunder, thanks to a 14-3 offensive rebounds advantage

16 Lead changes in the game, all of which came in the first three quarters

20  Assists for the Thunder on the evening, including four each from Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden

23-13 Point differential for the Thunder in the fourth quarter

30-6  Advantage in fast break points for the Thunder in the game

50-46 The Thunder led in points in the paint by this margin, the third time in the series it accomplished that

51-35 Rebounding margin for the Thunder on the night, thanks to 11 rebounds from Kendrick Perkins and 10 from Kevin Durant

        
GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
Close-out games in the NBA Playoffs are always the most difficult, and for the first three quarters against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5, the Thunder experienced that phenomenon.

Thanks to a 10-0 burst to start the fourth quarter, the Thunder used its Playoff experience to guide it to a 106-90 victory and put the pedal to the floor, sealing a 4-1 series victory. For Head Coach Scott Brooks, it was a good win to propel his team to the Western Conference Finals because the Thunder used a plus-16 rebounding effort along with staunch defense to get the victory.

"I'm really happy for our guys," Brooks said. "They did a good job of focusing in on locking in on the defensive end. That's how we won this series, on that end of the floor. That's why we won a lot of games. We can play different ways, with different styles of basketball, but the fact of the matter is, if we don't play defense it doesn't matter how well we do offensively, we're not going to be successful. Our guys did a great job of really competing and making it a possession-by-possession game."

The Thunder's effort on the glass started early and often as Serge Ibaka reeled in six rebounds, including five on the offensive boards in the first nine minutes of the game. In all the Thunder was able to grab 14 offensive rebounds that led to 13 second chance points. More importantly, however, Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Durant boxed out well and combined for 17 defensive rebounds that helped lead to run outs and 30 fast break points.

"Serge and I talked about going out and attacking the glass," Perkins said. "We just said that we were going to be aggressive and be all out on the backboards. I think he did a great job and I was just trying to mix it up a little bit during the game. I thought Serge did a great job while he was in there attacking the glass, finishing strong and kind of setting the tone for the game."

While the Thunder bigs were busy racking up rebounds, the perimeter players were scoring the ball and finding open teammates for buckets. Mostly that came off the transition opportunities the Thunder had, in which they were 9-for-14 in converting fast break buckets and had the rest of their 30 fast break points come from the free throw line. Leading the charge in transition were Russell Westbrook and James Harden, who consistently got to the rim or found teammates along the way.

"Russell in the second half was amazing," Harden said. "The bigs' defense was phenomenal. KD (Kevin Durant) hit two big threes. The team effort was amazing and we needed it."

The trio of Durant, Westbrook and Harden combined to score 70 points, but also racked up 21 rebounds and 12 assists, with plenty more "hockey assists" to boot. The distribution of the ball and triangle passing for easy buckets was there most of the night for the Thunder. As Perkins explained, this Thunder team is continuing to develop and come together, meaning the passing is becoming more accurate, the cutting sharper and the mutual intuition keener.

"Guys are getting more comfortable passing the ball to guys and making the extra pass," Perkins said. "That's what we need to do to take it to the next level. Not force things and just play together. We just have to keep trusting each other, keep believing in what Coach Brooks and the coaching staff are saying and we'll be alright."

Following Brooks and his staff's mantra about defending, boxing out, rebounding, running, spacing and sharing the ball helped the Thunder succeed in this series, and will be essential in the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. Westbrook finished this series with 23 assists and four turnovers, and his play seemed inspired throughout the series whether it was defending, scoring or passing. It all stemmed from the adoring crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena, and the fans from all parts of Oklahoma City and the world.

"These fans have taken us on a ride," Westbrook said. "They have been supportive from day one since I have been here. We have the best fans in the league and they have been doing that for us all season long. Tonight, they did it again and we know they will continue to do it."

Turning Point The game was tied at 73-73, when with 2:40 remaining in the third quarter the Thunder started a 20-4 run that blew open the game. It started with a Russell Westbrook midrange jumper, then was followed up by rebounds after two straight Andrew Bynum misses that led to a James Harden fast break layup and a crazy, acrobatic 12-foot bank shot finger roll by Westbrook as he was being wrapped up and fouled. The run continued with another Westbrook jumper and two free throws from Kevin Durant as the Thunder went into the fourth quarter with an 83-77 lead.

After the quarter break, the Thunder reeled off 10 straight points, including a free-throw-line jumper from Harden, back-to-back three pointers from Kevin Durant and was capped by a Westbrook finger roll on the fast break. That brought the score to 93-77 with 9:28 remaining, effectively closing out the series.

"I think we kept our composure in the fourth quarter and made plays on the defensive end as well as the offensive end," Durant said. "And we believe, even if we're down or even have the lead, we still wanted to play the right way and the right basketball."

Plays the box score won't show, first half Good defensive possession to start, forcing a miss, then Kendrick Perkins sets a screen off the ball for Kevin Durant for a jumper… Durant hustles to box out on the defensive glass, then Thabo Sefolosha grabs one too and draws a foul… Perfect passing from Sefolosha to Perkins to Serge Ibaka for an alley oop, then Ibaka swats a shot and grabs an offensive board… Russell Westbrook splits a double team and gets straight to the cup for a dunk, then Sefolosha tips out an offensive board to get another possession… Beautiful triangle passing from Ibaka to Perkins to Sefolosha for a dunk, then an Ibaka block leads to a Westbrook to Durant run-out alley oop… Perkins reels in a defensive board, then draws a foul by boxing out Andrew Bynum, then Ibaka cleans up his own miss and jams it home with the foul… Harden with a pretty drive and dish to Ibaka for a slam dunk, then Harden reels in a rebound and draws a foul… Durant gets it at the top of the key and swings to Harden for a three, then grabs a defensive board and sends it up court to Harden for a slam… Collison challenges a shot and gets a defensive board, sending an outlet pass to Derek Fisher who runs the floor and draws a foul… Nazr Mohammed fights for a tough offensive board and draws a foul with 0.5 seconds left in the first quarter… Pretty passing from Harden on consecutive plays to free up Collison and Mohammed for easy layups… Incredible pump fake by Mohammed to get Bynum up in the air and score on a layup… Great instincts from Harden to deflect a pass and lead a Durant to Westbrook fast break, then Durant slaps away a steal… Durant powers his way to the cup, then Perkins makes a block that leads to a Durant to Harden fast break… Harden sizes up Gasol and kicks to Fisher for a three pointer from the corner, then Harden uses an extra effort on the glass to clean up his own miss and draw two free throws… Westbrook uses patience when the Lakers try to double his post up move by escaping it and getting to the rim for a lefty finish… Ibaka sends one away at the rim, then Sefolosha makes a steal that leads to a foul and four straight free throws to end the half.

Plays the box score won't show, second half Good ball rotation leads to a Durant to Sefolosha to Ibaka midrange jumper, then Perkins stays strong on the defensive end to force a miss… Great vision from Sefolosha to hit Perkins for a dunk underneath after Perkins set a screen… Durant comes down with an offensive board then comes off a screen to hit a jumper… Westbrook deflects a pass to disrupt the offense, then great passing from Sefolosha to Ibaka to Perkins for a jumper… Perkins sets a nice screen on a pin down to free up Durant for a jumper in the lane, then Ibaka plays strong straight up defense to get a stop… Harden drives and dishes to Collison, then Perkins cleans up a miss at the rim… Durant active on the defensive glass after three guys did a nice job of converging on Bynum, then Collison follows up a miss with a slam dunk… Unbelievable play by Westbrook to make a steal then somehow flip the ball in off the backboard while he was getting wrapped up… Great defensive sequence by Harden and Collison to force a turnover, then Durant and Perkins wrap up a defensive board that leads to a Westbrook jumper… Perkins stands tall to force a miss that Harden snares and takes the other way for a layup… Big block by Perkins, then Harden pulls it back out to feed Westbrook for an and-one jumper… Westbrook recognizes Gasol playing off him and pulls up for a jumper, then fantastic hustle on defense by Durant and Collison to force a Lakers turnover… Harden hits a jumper in the lane then Westbrook finds Durant along the wing for a three pointer… Collison draws a charge, then Fisher drives and finds Collison, who kicks out to Durant for a three pointer… Great box out by Collison leads to a Fisher-to-Westbrook fast break layup to continue the run… Collison tips in a miss at the rim by sticking with the play, then Collison slaps the ball back into play leading to a Durant to Westbrook run out for the foul… Perkins hustles down an offensive board, then Durant drains a fall-away jumper… Wonderful defensive possession by the Thunder as a whole, denying the ball, forcing difficult passes then making the defensive board… Westbrook comes down with a defensive rebound, then uses a screen to knock down a jumper… Durant boxes out and gets a tough rebound, then the crowd erupts as Harden, Westbrook and Durant check out.

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