THUNDER 106
BLAZERS 90
5 Number of players who scored in double figures for the Thunder on the night

7 Rebounds for Ronnie Brewer in addition to two steals

7-for-11 Shooting numbers for Kevin Durant, who had 16 points, six assists and five rebounds

17 Combined blocks and steals for the Thunder on the night

17 Points for Reggie Jackson on the night, a career-high

26-7 The score by which the Thunder out-scored the Blazers in the third quarter

33 Points for Russell Westbrook on 10-for-18 shooting, including 11-for-12 from the free throw line

51.9 Shooting percentage for the Thunder on the night, including 9-for-22 from three-point range

GAME IN REVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
April 13th, 2013

RECAP:
PORTLAND – In the blink of an eye the Thunder can put on a scoring barrage, but what the Thunder has shown this season is its ability to clamp down for extended stretches on the defensive end as well.

Tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Thunder did exactly that in the third quarter, when it used an 18-2 run over the course of six minutes in the second and third quarters to turn a four-point deficit into a 106-90 victory. Where Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club showed even more maturity and focus, however, was how it continued to close out the quarter. By allowing the Blazers to score an opponent season-low seven points in the third period, the Thunder held Portland to 3-for-21 shooting and removed all doubt in the outcome of the game.

“It was outstanding,” Brooks said. “Any time you can hold an NBA team under 10 points, you’re doing something right. That has to do with energy and toughness, and I thought we had that in that third quarter. We had it throughout the game, but in that third quarter we really did a good job of making them miss a lot of shots. Even the shots that they were getting, they were tough.”

The big burst and then defensive stand started with only 30 seconds left in the second quarter, when the Blazers had the Thunder in a bit of a precarious spot. Calmly and with poise, Russell Westbrook managed to draw a foul after only two seconds elapsed, then after his two free throws and a defensive stand, Kevin Durant hit Thabo Sefolosha in the corner for a buzzer-beating three-pointer. It was the second such well-executed end-of-half situation in as many nights for the Thunder, and the 5-0 burst to close the first half was a huge emotional boost for the club.

“It’s very critical ,” Durant said. “Thabo came through and hit a big shot. Me getting the ball and trying to get to the rim, I know that the defense is going to collapse on us so I had to kick it out.”

Throughout the game, but particularly during the ensuing third quarter, Durant’s running mate Russell Westbrook was sensational in his efficiency and poise. The All-Star point guard turned in 17 of his game-high 33 points in the third quarter, while shooting 10-for-18 on the night and 11-for-12 from the free throw line. Perhaps more importantly, Westbrook led the defensive charge for the Thunder by bothering Portland rookie standout Damian Lillard into a 3-for-14 shooting night.

“He was efficient,” Durant said. “He took great shots. He was attacking and trying to put some pressure on Lillard and their point guards. He just made it work. All night we were trying to feed him. He had the hot hand. I think he did a good job of moving the ball. He missed some shots, but the ball movement was pretty good tonight and Russ was the main advocate. He did it all tonight.”

Behind Westbrook, Durant and four other Thunder players who scored nine-or-more points, the Thunder distributed the ball and played stout defense. While Kevin Martin and Kendrick Perkins rested, the Thunder employed the next-man-up mentality, getting solid production from Hasheem Thabeet, Ronnie Brewer and Daniel Orton. Racking up its 59th victory of the season, the Thunder also managed to clinch its third consecutive Northwest Division title. It’s a feat that this young squad does not take for granted, and understands is a wonderful accomplishment for any NBA organization.

“It feels great,” Westbrook said. “That’s not a given. A lot of guys came back better, and we’ve put in a lot of work to put ourselves in a position to win it again.”

Turning Point:
The Blazers had taken its biggest lead of the night at 54-50 with just 30.9 seconds remaining in the second quarter, but thanks to some heady basketball by the Thunder, it turned the game completely on an 18-2 run. Russell Westbrook ensured the Thunder would get a two-for-one even with such little time on the clock by drawing a quick foul and knocking down two free throws. Then after a defensive stop, Kevin Durant hit Thabo Sefolosha in the corner for a buzzer-beating three-pointer, mirroring the end of half situation last night against Golden State. Coming out of halftime, Sefolosha made a three, Durant hit two free throws, Westbrook scored six straight points then Durant hit a jumper to make it 68-56 Thunder with 6:59 remaining in the third quarter.

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Solid communication and defensive rotations help the Thunder force a turnover just by staying in front of their men. Incredible timing between Durant and Westbrook on a back-door lob that Westbrook sent home with a jam. Ibaka kept his head looking up the court and comes over in helpside defense to swat a dunk attempt. Nice trap in the corner to force an errant pass and give the Thunder a run-out. Strong rebound by Orton to finish a defensive stop.

Plays the box score won't show:
Solid communication and defensive rotations help the Thunder force a turnover just by staying in front of their men. Incredible timing between Durant and Westbrook on a back-door lob that Westbrook sent home with a jam. Ibaka kept his head looking up the court and comes over in helpside defense to swat a dunk attempt. Nice trap in the corner to force an errant pass and give the Thunder a run-out. Strong rebound by Orton to finish a defensive stop.



“They came out with focus. They came out with energy. All three road games we had the same mindset, which is great. They locked in defensively… Our offense was moving. Russell got on a hot streak there and carried us when we needed it. Then our guys off the bench did a good job of playing solid basketball.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks

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