Regular Season Recap: Thunder at Blazers

THUNDER 111

BLAZERS 107
1 Number of overtime games the Thunder has had this season

2 Assists shy of a triple-double for Russell Westbrook. He finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists

4 Blocked shots by Serge Ibaka, who also altered many more shots

+20 Rebounding margin for the Thunder, the highest of the season

22 Second chance points for the Thunder off of 18 offensive rebounds

33 Points by Kevin Durant, in a game that he also grabbed 7 rebounds and 5 assists

59 Total rebounds by the Thunder, the team's season-high

95 Shot attempts by the Thudner, a season-high

The Thunder continues on its stretch of five straight road games as it travels to Golden State to face the Warriors Tuesday night. Game time is 9:30 p.m. Central and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.

The Thunder keeps moving forward in its stretch of eight of nine games on the road after the game against the Warriors. The Thunder heads to Sacramento to play the Kings on Thursday night then to Utah to face the Jazz on Friday night.

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
When it comes to winning time, the Thunder is continuing to develop their personality and attitude, in addition to finding new ways to come away with victories. In the past week the Thunder has turned tied ballgames with a minute remaining into victories by going on mini-runs to close out games, but tonight's contest took an extra five minutes to decide the winner as Oklahoma City left Portland with a hard-fought 111-107 victory. The game's dramatic conclusion ended with a furious defensive sequence that ended in a block by Kendrick Perkins that led to a run-out slam dunk by Kevin Durant to give the Thunder a four-point lead with only two seconds remaining.

"I thought it was a great game," Head Coach Scott Brooks said. "I thought Perk was the difference maker...His activity, his rebounding, his toughness I thought won this game."

After a game that featured 13 ties and 13 lead changes, the Thunder was up two points with 30 seconds left in overtime when the Thunder put together a masterful defensive possession that not only led to the Blazers running the shot clock down to three seconds but also culminated in the block by Perkins on a Jamal Crawford midrange jump shot from the baseline. Switching screens, intense ball pressure by Russell Westbrook and Perkins' defensive instinct to double back off his man to make the game-saving block was the recipe for defensive success in the final sequence. Perkins added one more aspect that, despite the crowd noise and intensity of the situation, helped give the Thunder the victory.

"It's just talking and communication," Perkins said. "You just never give up on the play. Especially you can't give a guy like Crawford a clean look at the basket. He's known for hitting ties and game-winners and stuff like that. We just kept pursuing, kept helping the helper and I think this was a great win for us. I think we can build off of this and just keep going. It's a great team win. We have room for improvement, but I'm pretty satisfied with the win."

It was not only Perkins who led the defensive stand in those waning minutes, as Westbrook had a block of his own that saved the game. At the end of regulation, Nicolas Batum came charging down the lane for a layup that would have given the Blazers a two-point victory. It wasn't meant to be as, seemingly out of nowhere, Westbrook helped from the weakside and blocked Batum's shot as the clock expired. Westbrook's all around game (he finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists) was also a factor in this one, as he at one point scored a half dozen fast break points in a row and also hit his patented pull-up jumper from the elbow for the first points of overtime. After the game however, Westbrook wanted to speak about Perkins and the entire team's late-game defense.

"He did a great job of using his body and using his athleticism to get loose balls and get rebounds towards the end of the game," Westbrook said of Perkins. "Regardless of timing and regardless of what was going on in the rest of the game, if we have an opportunity to win the game, we lock in and do a good job of defending."

Westbrook also skied for a crucial late game rebound, and was one of three Thunder players with double digit rebounds in a game where the Thunder brought down a season-high 59 boards with a +20 advantage on the glass. Kevin Durant finished with seven rebounds to go with his 33 points, including the Thunder's last four points in overtime. Throughout the game Durant also held Gerald Wallace to only four points on two-of-nine shooting, which was just another example of tough defense being contagious for the Thunder. According to Durant, it all started with Perkins tonight.

"He does a great job on defense," Durant said of Perkins. "You just have to laugh at it at how hards he plays and how tough he makes it on his opponent. You know you're a very good player if you're LaMarcus Aldridge and you make shots on Perk. We applauded him for his effort once we got in the locker room because he brought it tonight, Serge did a great job as well and the perimeter defense was pretty good too."

TURNING POINT:
While it was a ping-pong type game and one that wasn't totally resolved until overtime, there was an early momentum swing that helped the Thunder get back in control of the game. With 58 seconds remaining in the first quarter, the Thunder was down 31-23 when Durant knocked in a floater and completed a three point play, then followed it up by driving to the lane and dishing the ball to Reggie Jackson for a 3-pointer to cut the lead to two going into the second quarter. During the next six minutes James Harden took over and scored six points on free throws in addition to setting up a Daequan Cook 3-pointer on an incredible cross-court pass to give the Thunder a 42-37 lead with 6:56 remaining in the half. In all, it was a 19-6 run. Late in the game, however, it was the crowd-silencing shooting of Durant and the suffocating Thunder defense that helped the Thunder close out the fourth quarter by stopping Blazers runs and wrestling control of the game away from Portland in overtime.

"I thought both teams played extremely hard on the defensive end," Brooks said. "Every shot was contested, every basket was tough to get. That was a great defensive two or three minutes for Perk. Taking them out of their offense, getting him (Aldridge) out of his sweet spot."

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Strong offensive rebound from Serge Ibaka then a nice finish for a layup... Good patience by Kendrick Perkins on the outlet pass to Russell Westbrook to not make the first pass, but the right one... Beautiful pick by Perkins to free up Westbrook with an open lane... Nice hustle by Ibaka to get back and block a Jamal Crawford shot... Durant with two really nice drives and dishes, one freeing up Daequan Cook for a 3-pointer and another for a Perkins lay-in... Perkins playing right in LaMarcus Aldridge's face on defense... Good hustle by Ibaka to corral a loose ball... Beautiful shake and bake move by Durant to score on one end, then a hustle play to break up a pass on the other end... A really tough move by Kevin Durant to take a hit from Nolan Smith and finish a floater... Really big play by Durant to kick it to Jackson for a 3-pointer to end the quarter... Nice job by Nazr Mohammed to tip a defensive rebound to himself... Good alertness by Nick Collison to catch asave attempt by Portland... Quick hands by Jackson to strip Craig Smith on a drive... Perfect timing by Mohammed on a tip-in... Strong defensive rebound by Collison to protect the board... Nifty drive and dish by Harden to find Collison to draw a foul... Incredible cross-court pass from Harden to Cook, who got open thanks to a Collison backscreen... Perkinslooked up Kurt Thomas then went baseline for a layup-and-one that he and Ibaka followed up with offensive rebounds to creat a four-point possession...Great steal by Ibaka to lead to a Thunder fast break... A double tip-in by Perkins and Westbrook off a Durant miss... Perfect alley-oop from Westbrook to Durant... Another strong offensive rebound by Ibaka and a put back dunk for good measure.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
A tough defensive rebound for Ibaka to get his double-double, then he picks up a loose ball and knocks down an open jumper... Incredible sequence for Ibaka as he blocked two transition layup attempts by the Blazers... Really tough fall-away shot by Durant, which he followed up by great defense on Gerald Wallace and then a pull-up jumper... Nice job to tip a defensive rebound by Ibaka to Harden to set up a layup... Then a steal by Perkins who got it to Westbrook on a run-out for two free throws... Slick give-and-go by Westbrook and Harden to get two free throw attempts... Great hustle by Westbrook and Durant to get to a loose ball and then hit the jets on a fast break... Staunch defensive possession as Collison knocked the ball away, Westbrook scooped it up and raced to the other end for a dunk... Quick recovery by Collison to prevent a sure Aldridge lay-up... Another great defensive stop as Durant shot the gap and got it to Westbrook for a fast-break dunk... A zone defensive look from Portland leads to an open Harden triple... Big shot by Harden to stop a Blazers run... Beautiful give-and-go for a dunk between Harden and Collison... Mohammed soaring for a defensive rebound... Great playcall as Westbrook found a rolling Durant for a dunk... A silky smooth pull-up jumper for Westbrook... A perfect job of hedging out on a screen and roll by Perkins to slow down Crawford... Nice work by Perkins to tap a loose defensive rebound out to Westbrook... Great block by Durant and good team hustle to grab the loose ball... Great hustle by Harden to stick with a defensive rebound... Huge rebounds by Perkins and Ibaka to keep possession and give the Thunder multiple chances to tie or take the lead... Incredible, game-saving block by Westbrook at the rim...

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, OVERTIME:
Nice job by Harden to go up and grab a loose defensive rebound... Patented Westbrook elbow pull-up jumper for the first points of overtime... Good teamwork as Westbrook grabbed a loose ball and pitched it to James Harden for a dunk... Clutch rebounding by Westbrook to give Durant a second shot... Great alertness by Durant to be ready for a deflected defensive rebound... Incredible defense on the final possession including a clutch block by Perkins to seal the win.