Game Recap

8 Points by Daequan Cook on 3-for-3 shooting in four minutes of game action.

10 Rebounds by Kendrick Perkins on the night, including nine on the defensive end

12 Assists for Russell Westbrook tonight, in addition to 23 points

20 Points for James Harden on 6-for-11 shooting and 3-for-4 three point shooting, including the game-clinching three pointer

20-for-23 Free throw shooting for the Thunder tonight, including 5-for-6 from Kevin Durant, who scored 22 second half points

28  Points off turnovers for the Thunder, who forced the Spurs into 21 giveaways

40-22 Bench points advantage on the Thunder for the night including 12 combined for Derek Fisher and Nick Collison

50 Shooting percentage for the Thunder throughout the night, including 8-for-21 from three point land

        
GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
For a team whose core features 23 and 22-year olds playing major roles and crunch-time minutes, the Thunder did a great job of sticking together and playing mentally tough despite major adversity in its 108-103 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.

The Thunder held as large as a 15-point lead and even a 13-point advantage in the fourth quarter that was whittled to two points on two different occasions in the final two minutes of the game, but by staying strong mentally and playing as a unit, the Thunder prevailed. Head Coach Scott Brooks' club is continually learning about Playoff basketball, and tonight it exhibited the resolve and guts it takes to withstand run after run by a quality opponent in a raucous road environment.

"We talk about effort with our guys all the time," Brooks said. "There is physical effort and there is mental effort. We all have enough in our tanks to be physical for 48 minutes. That's easy to do… Mental effort is what gets you to win games against this team because they keep coming at you."

"We definitely know that we have to play 48 minutes against this team," Brooks continued. "You have to be able to trust your teammates on both ends of the floor and I think our guys have done a great job this series."

In Game 1 in San Antonio the Thunder held a nine-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, eventually surrendering it and the game. That experience may have helped Brooks' team learn how to handle such situations, which paid dividends tonight. With about nine minutes left in the game, James Harden said that Kendrick Perkins reminded the team about what happened in Game 1 and collectively, they decided not to let that happen again.

"There were times in this game where we could have folded," Harden said. "We were up I think nine or so in the third quarter and they went on a run and took the lead. We could have folded, but we're family so we stuck together, stuck with it and made our run and took the lead and went from there."

Even as the Spurs made a furious rally in the fourth quarter, the Thunder stayed poised and calm, despite bounces not going their way and the Spurs playing with desperation and defensive intensity. Teammates credited Russell Westbrook and his 12 assists for leading the team by example through most of the night, and then Westbrook followed by saying that when he needed a lift in the fourth quarter, his guys kept him up.

"Our team showed mental toughness," Westbrook said. "Everybody stayed together. We got stops and we finally made some shots. And I think that was the turning point for us to see how the game was going to turn out."

In typical Thunder fashion, leaders like Kevin Durant and Westbrook were already looking ahead to Wednesday night's Game 6 in Chesapeake Energy Arena. It will be a difficult test as the Spurs will bring the full force of a team on the brink, so the Durant and his teammates are taking tonight's win in stride. After all, the NBA has this pesky rule that a team must win four games in order to advance, and tonight's win didn't count for two.

"We don't want to get too high for this win," Durant said. "We know that we still have a tough road ahead. But we came here, we wanted to get a win on their home floor. That's what it (will take) for us to advance or to get to where we want to get to. We knew this was an important game."

The atmosphere and "family" environment that Harden talked about is a foundation of the Thunder's organization, one built over the four seasons the team has been in Oklahoma City. As a result, even a third year player like Harden feels a sense of ownership, pride and comfort with the fact that his team's standard operating procedure is to go back to the film room and the practice floor to continue its development.

"We're a humble group of guys top to bottom," Harden said. "We have to go in and put in the work tomorrow, focus on Game 6 and what we need to do."

Dae's Day:

Daequan Cook didn't play a single minute in the Thunder's Game 4 victory over the San Antonio Spurs, but when his number was called tonight after James Harden and Thabo Sefolosha got into some early foul trouble, he played with tempo, energy and a patience that led to eight points on 3-for-3 shooting in less than four minutes of action.

"He's a true professional," Harden said. "Daequan works all the time on that shot. That's what the Thunder is about, is work. When his name was called him came in and hit two big threes and got that floater. He gave us some very good minutes when he was in."

The 3:54 that Cook played featured a smart, veteran move in order to get himself in rhythm. Instead of taking a contested three point in the corner on his first touch, Cook pump faked and took a dribble in to hit a short corner jumper. Shortly thereafter, Russell Westbrook drove and kicked it to Cook in the right corner, one of his favorite spots on the floor.

"DC (Cook), I give him a lot of credit," Brooks said. "One of the toughest things to do in this league is to stay ready. Everybody talks about it and he's done that. He's worked and cheered and did everything in his power to get an opportunity to be ready and he did a great job."

Turning Point:
After at one point holding a 13-point fourth quarter lead, the Thunder led by a slim two-point advantage at 103-101 with 50.9 seconds remaining, when James Harden saw the shot clock winding down and knew he had to get up a good shot. The original play call was set up to get Kevin Durant the ball, but the option was cut off and Harden improvised, pulling up for a tough three-pointer that went through the hoop with 28.8 seconds left in the game.

"I just went back to my mechanics, shot the ball with confidence and it went in," Harden said.

That bucket made it 106-101, but it gave the Thunder a significant enough cushion that when it made the defensive stop it needed to with 4.9 seconds left, it was enough to get the win. Both Kevin Durant and James Harden pressured Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan off the three point line before forcing Ginobili into a difficult, fall-away missed three pointer to seal the victory.

"That was a total team effort," Brooks said. "We stuck together, we had a couple bad stretches but we didn't break. We battled through that, everybody did a great job of chipping in."

Plays the box score won't show, first half…
Thabo Sefolosha hustles to track down an offensive rebound and keep possession alive, then Kevin Durant gets everyone on the same page to settle down… Russell Westbrook makes a steal to stop a Spurs transition opportunity, then Sefolosha smartly boxes his man out to keep possession… Nick Collison steps up and makes a help-side block, then Kendrick Perkins contests and boxes out to get a defensive rebound… The Thunder runs a nice set as Westbrook hits Durant who finds a cutting Collison for a slam dunk through contact… Westbrook hustles back to make another transition steal then makes another steal to set himself up with free throws… Pretty drive and dish with good awareness from Westbrook to kick it to Durant for a jumper, then Sefolosha and Perkins kick out to one another as Perkins gets one to go… Perkins does a nice job of contesting and Collison boxes out to regain possession then Westbrook calmly knocks down a midrange jumper… Collison steps up and takes a big charge on Tim Duncan then Westbrook and Durant drive and kick to get Sefolosha a three pointer… Quick hands from James Harden to make two steals in the lane then Durant hits Westbrook for a layup on the fast break… Wonderful bounce pass from Westbrook sets up a baseline-cutting Collison for a dunk, then Durant contests out on a three and Derek Fisher reels in the defensive board… Unbelievable catch by Collison on a Westbrook dump down pass for a layup, then Fisher snags a rebound and draws a foul… Fisher draws an offensive foul on the Spurs then Harden attacks and draws a foul… Collison does a fantastic job of tying up Manu Ginobili on a drive then he wins the jump ball to end the quarter… Thunder does a nice job of rotating on defense to force a missed three and a turnover, then Ibaka takes the ball to the middle for a bucket… Durant patiently takes a few dribbles then hits Fisher in the corner for a three pointer… Serge Ibaka sets a great screen for Harden to get freed up for a midrange jumper, then a solid box out by Harden on a missed free throw… Nice pump fake from Daequan Cook to free himself up for a baseline jumper, then Westbrook slings one cross court to Cook for a three pointer in the corner… Westbrook drives and dishes again to a gliding-into-the-corner Cook for a three pointer, then Ibaka boxes out for a tough defensive rebound and snags an offensive one too to draw a foul… Nice, smart defense from Ibaka forces a miss as he gets the rebound, then Westbrook finds Ibaka for an alley-oop… Big block by Ibaka to force a miss, then Westbrook skies for a rebound after boxing out… Westbrook again drives and kicks to Ibaka for a mid-range jumper then Perkins stays alive on the defensive boards…Westbrook flies in from behind and makes a block then knocks down an elbow jumper… Harden and Durant combine to make a steal that leads to a Harden fast break and-one layup, then swarming Thunder defense forces another turnover… Westbrook splashes a midrange jumper to steady the team.

Plays the box score won't show, second half…
Sefolosha and Perkins stay alive on the defensive glass… Perkins sets up Durant with a screen to free him up for a jumper, then Ibaka recovers to force a turnover… Good ball rotation by Westbrook and Harden as Westbrook slides to the lane and hits a layup with the foul, then Sefolosha makes a steal out top and takes it back for a dunk… Big play off an in-bounds pass as Harden hits Durant for a three, then Harden makes a rebound off Perkins box out… Perkins keeps a play alive with an offensive rebound and Durant slides to the rim for a bucket… Durant sets a screen for Westbrook to hit an open jumper, then Fisher draws an offensive foul on the Spurs… Nice dump off pass from Westbrook and good poise by Perkins to pump fake and draw the foul… Nice contesting by Harden on a three pointer then Perkins boxes out for a rebound… Good player movement by the Thunder as Westbrook gets some space and draws the foul going to the basket, then Durant's length causes a steal then a Durant to Westbrook alley-oop… Good box out by Durant to grab a rebound, then hustle by Fisher to get the ball back... Westbrook calmly dumps it off to Durant for a jumper, then Durant makes a smart foul to prevent a sure layup… Smart awareness by Westbrook to run in on a missed free throw to grab the rebound, then Harden sticks with it and drives the lane to draw a foul… Fisher's quick hands make a steal in the lane then Westbrook calms everyone down and pulls it out before driving for a layup… Collison steps up and draws a huge charge with the shot clock expiring to wipe away a bucket, then Durant splashes a turnaround jumper to end the quarter… Big box out and rebound by Collison on the defensive end, then Collison sets a perfect screen for a Westbrook to Durant three pointer… Collison sets up Harden with a screen for a three pointer, then Harden stays big and rebounds on defense… So smart by Westbrook to not force the issue, then he drives and hits Fisher for a floater... Westbrook with great hands to make a steal, then Durant saves the ball after he mishandles an alley oop and knocks down a short corner jumper… Incredible hustle by Perkins to close out and contest, then Durant pulls down the rebound… Tough board on a missed free throw by Perkins to secure possession, then a good Durant closeout forces a miss… Good patience and dribbling from Harden to attack the cup with poise… Unbelievable effort by Durant to drive right, pump fake and step through for a floater… Westbrook drives and dishes to a spotted-up Ibaka just off the bench for a jumper, then Ibaka makes a huge block at the rim and Westbrook hits Harden for a three pointer and the foul… Big rebound by Durant after a good box out, then Ibaka sets up Westbrook on a screen for a jumper… Westbrook stays down on a pump fake and Harden comes away with a rebound… Insane step back three pointer from Harden as the shot clock wound down… Great hustle by Durant and Harden to chase Ginobili off a screen to force a missed three… Kevin Durant knocks down two key free throws to seal the win.

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