Regular Season Recap: Thunder vs. Bobcats

BOBCATS 95

THUNDER 122
12 Number of players who scored for the Thunder

13 Blocks tonight by the Thunder, by six different players

21-for-28 Shooting numbers in the first half for Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden

27 Assists tonight for the Thunder, a season high

33 Points for James Harden, a career high

56-32 Points in the paint advantage for the Thunder

63.0 Shooting percentage for the Thunder, a season high

82 Combined points on the night by Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook on 29-for-42 shooting

122 Points by the Thunder tonight, two points shy of a season high

The Thunder will finish its home stand on Tuesday against the Houston Rockets. Game time is 7 p.m. Central and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.

The Thunder then hits the road for one night against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday before hosting the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night and the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night.

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
Sometimes players all heat up at once shooting the ball, and that's what happened tonight for the Thunder, as it also executed to perfection in a 122-95 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. Russell Westbrook started the game shooting 6-for-6, and finished the first quarter with 13 points. The second quarter was Kevin Durant's turn to take over as he scored 12 of his own, but the entire first half belonged to James Harden, who dropped 22 points in the first 24 minutes on his way to a career-high 33 points. It was the season-high 27 assists for the entire team, including seven by rookie point guard Reggie Jackson, that truly opened things up for the Thunder, as it took a three-point lead after one quarter and turned it into an 18-point halftime lead.

"That was a good win. I thought our guys did a good job bouncing back from last night's loss," Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks said. "The energy was good. I thought the second group came in and in that second quarter really extended the lead with a lot of hustle plays. A lot of great passing, ball movement, body movement. ... We shot the ball well, plus we were moving the ball very well, but it was a good win, everybody participated with good effort, good execution and we played a good basketball game."

In the first half the trio of Harden, Westbrook and Durant scored 55 points on 21-for-28 shooting, including 6-for-11 shooting from the 3-point line. While many of those buckets were off of assists and in transition, there was also a great display of shooting ability. Westbrook was knocking down mid-range jumpers, while Harden was consistent-as-ever from the 3-point line. Durant utilized his length and the spacing on the floor in order to give himself some breathing room to convert field goal attempts. It was a beautiful combination of shot making and offensive execution throughout the game, as the trio ended up with 82 combined points and provided the offensive firepower to propel the Thunder to victory.

"I guess a little bit of both," Durant said, when asked if it was hot shooting or sharing the basketball that was key. "James had it going as soon as he got in the game. Russ, we started him in the post, he had a smaller guard on him and he was able to get some shots and they were getting me some easy ones too. James got me on a lob, I got a steal, so I was able to get going there. I think everybody fed off of us and we were able to get a good win."

Brooks had high praise for the scoring trio, but also emphasized the importance of the entire second unit, which accounted for 16 of the team's assists. Twelve different Thunder players scored, including a six-point, six-rebound effort from Cole Aldrich. His energy and intensity was palpable, and it helped spark the Thunder's second unit in both the first and second halves. All 13 active players saw the court tonight, which meant it was a restful fourth quarter for the starters. It was no surprise however, that the players at the top of the rotation spent most of the final 12 minutes standing and rallying their teammates as they watched high levels of focus and determination.

"We came out and we really worked hard," Aldrich said. "James is a really fun player to watch and play with. He's gotten so much better since high school and since I've known him, he's definitely a team-first guy. It's so much fun to play with him."

Aldrich and Jackson linked up a few times throughout the night as the rookie point guard added six points to his seven assists and three rebounds. What made Jackson's job as the leader of the second unit especially easy, however, was the efficiency of Harden, who shot 11-for-16 and also added three assists. This is twice now this week that Harden has broken his career high in points, and is yet another example of the consistency and effort that he brings every night. As the key offensive weapon on the Thunder's essential second unit, Harden drew big praise from his point guard in recognizing how he helps the entire team share the ball and execute on offense as the Thunder shot 63 percent from the floor, also a season high.

"(James) made plays for us, he got off to a good start and then started finding others. Sharing the ball is kind of contagious," Jackson said. "That's what we really want to work on, that's one of our key points and hopefully we can keep it up. ... (The shooting percentage) was attributed to sharing the ball. Once you start sharing it, people can't pressure us and then you start getting into sets easier and the game just becomes easier."

TURNING POINT:
The turning point came in the second quarter, with the Thunder holding a 31-29 lead with 9:31 remaining in the half. The Thunder then reeled off 13 consecutive points over the next three minutes to claim a 44-29 lead with 6:11 remaining in the quarter. James Harden hit a 3-pointer to start the run, then the Thunder was able to get out in transition thanks to two steals, which led to Harden and Kevin Durant dunks. The run was capped by a 3-pointer by Durant off a Russell Westbrook assist. In all, the run featured assists on every single made basket.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Kendrick Perkins backs his man down then dishes to Russell Westbrook for a 3-pointer on the opening possession, then Westbrook forces a turnover on the ensuing possession... Westbrook displaying incredible athleticism to get to the bucket... Kevin Durant sets up Westbrook for a turnaround jumper then makes a steal and slam the next time down court... Durant does a good job of staying in front of Corey Maggette to help the Thunder get a run-out... Serge Ibaka rotates over and gets a nice block followed by a strong Westbrook defensive rebound... Nice box out by Ibaka to help secure a defensive rebound, then Perkins plays tough inside to get another defensive board... Nick Collison does a good job of securing an offensive rebound then finding James Harden on a drive to draw a foul... Quick hands by Nazr Mohammed to make a steal out at the top of the key... Beautiful bounce pass by Collison on a backdoor cut by Harden for a dunk... Strong blocks by Mohammed and Collison to protect the rim, then Royal Ivey cleans it up with a defensive board... Intense pressure on the perimeter by Ivey and a nice job by Mohammed to hedge out on a pick... Harden playing hard on both ends of the floor, knocking down a 3-pointer then making a block on the next trip down... Tough defense down low by Cole Aldrich and Collison to make a block and rebound, then Collison hits Durant off a curl for a bucket... Pretty little dump-off pass by Reggie Jackson to Harden for a dunk on a 3-on-1 fast break... Aldrich picks up a loose ball and toosses it to Harden, who lofts an alley-oop for Durant... Insane dribbling exhibition by Westbrook to get into the lane and dump one off to Harden for a dunk... Strong rebound by Ivey to clean up the defensive glass... Well-executed pick-and-roll in the lane between Westbrook and Perkins to draw a foul.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Possession-saving play by Durant to tip a ball to himself that was almost stolen away... Good job on the boards by Daequan Cook to tap a loose rebound then grab it the next time off the glass... Perkins slings an outlet pass down court to Ibaka for a slam dunk after Cook makes another good rebound, then Ibaka rejects a Corey Maggette layup attempt... Nice cross-court pass from Durant to Cook for a 3-pointeras the Thudner continues to share the ball... Westbrook then finds Ibaka on a pick-and-roll for a slam dunk, then Durant finds Cook again for a 3-pointer on a cross-court pass... Great job of being active by Ibaka to contest at the rim and then grab a defensive rebound... Good positioning by Durant on the defensive glass after Ibaka pressured DJ Augustin out top, then Durant manipulates his body in mid-air off a Westbrook lob... Incredible display of speed by Westbrook to race down court and get to the free throw line... Nice off-ball defense by Durant to prevent a pass from going to Maggette... Good kick-out by Perkins to Harden who pump fakes, relocates and knocks down a jumper... Great hustle from Collison to tap a loose offensive rebound to himself, then throw a cross-court pass to Harden for a 3-pointer... Perkins makes a nice defensive play to stay in front and block a Bismack Biyombo shot, then Mohammed and Collison contest on the defensive end... Collison flips it to Harden who scores in the paint, then Harden draws a foul to knock down a free throw and tie his career-high... Harden breaks his career-high on the next play after a nice defensive rebound by Jackson, who then unselfishly dishes the ball back to Mohammed for a dunk after Nazr's steal on the next possession... Pretty interior pass from Mohammed to Collison for a lay-in... Great spacing by Ivey in the corner as Jackson found him for a 3-pointer... Nice decision-making on the fast break by Ivey to find a trailing Aldrich for a monster dunk, then Jackson makes a slick pass in the lane to Aldrich for another jam... Good anticipation by Aldrich to make a steal, then determination by Jackson to tip in his own miss... Good hustle by Aldrich to make two offensive rebounds, then Jackson slips through the lane to get to the rim.