BOBCATS 69
THUNDER 114
6 Players who scored in double figures tonight for the Thunder in a game in which all 12 Thunder players scored

12 Points allowed in each of the first two quarters by the Thunder, making those 24 points the fewest allowed in Thunder history

13 Points for Hasheem Thabeet, a career-high, to go with his ten rebounds

21.6 Field goal percentage allowed by the Thunder in the first half, the lowest in Thunder history. The Bobcats finished shooting 29.1 percent

40 Halftime margin in favor of the Thunder, the largest by any team since 11/2/91 when the Golden State Warriors led the Sacramento Kings 88-41 at halftime.

44 Margin of victory for the Thunder, the largest in Thunder history

54 The number of rebounds for the Thunder on the night, a season-high, and the largest lead the Thunder had, also the biggest on the season.

69 Points allowed by the Thunder, the lowest in Thunder history

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
When stifling defense and a commitment to sharing the basketball merge, an NBA game can turn into an easy formula to solve. The challenge, however, is how to react when everything seems to be going right.

The Thunder used runs of 26-5 and 19-2 to take a 64-24 halftime lead over the Charlotte Bobcats en route to its Thunder-record-breaking 45-point, 114-69 victory on Monday night. In fact, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team’s defense set Thunder records by allowing only 69 points and 24 halftime points, to go with 21.9 percent shooting for the Bobcats in the first half.

Playing in its third game in four nights in three different cities, the Thunder showed a sharp focus and intensity that made the outcome of this one certain very early on. From the in-your-face defense that saw the Thunder challenge every shot to an unselfish offensive performance that featured 31 assists and all 12 players scoring, Kevin Durant and his teammates pressed all the right buttons for all 48 minutes tonight.

“I think we just played defense and moved the basketball,” Durant said. “We were able to get five or six stops multiple times. We got out and executed our offense and guys were making shots.”

Getting out into the eye-line of shooters is an important aspect of every closeout, while also staying solid and not biting on pump fakes. Those were points of emphasis for Brooks’ squad tonight, and the Thunder defense held form all evening. The Thunder held the Bobcats to only 22 points in the paint throughout the entire game that was broken open in the second quarter when the Thunder forced the Bobcats into 3-for-20 shooting. By sticking to their men, communicating on defense and boxing out, the Thunder held sway tonight by turning their defense into offense.

“The key on the runs tonight was the defense,” Brooks said. “We were contesting, we were rebounding, we were getting in transition. That’s what we talk about in practice and in shootarounds, defend, finish the defense, get the rebound and get out and run in transition… That’s when we’re good, when we spread the floor and our playmakers make great decisions.”

Durant led all scorers as he is prone to do with 18 points on 6-for-8 shooting, and Russell Westbrook dazzled with 11 assists and only two turnovers, but it was the offensive outbursts of Thabo Sefolosha and Hasheem Thabeet that were most notable. Sefolosha knocked down a career-high-tying four three-pointers and Thabeet recorded a career-high 13 points in his first career double-double. The Tanzanian big man is growing more-and-more comfortable in his role with the Thunder, taking advantage of the opportunities presented to him.

“We trust one another and that helps when we come in and play together,” Thabeet said. “Everything that I can do to become a better player, come out to the gym and do all of the little things helps complete you as a player… The more I am out there, the more my teammates are going to trust me and the better we all are going to get.”

As the season progresses, players like the starters, Nick Collison, Eric Maynor and Reggie Jackson will continue to re-establish their roles, while newcomers like Thabeet, Kevin Martin, Perry Jones and Jeremy Lamb find their niche on the team. The Thunder had six players in double figures on the night, every player scored at least three points and no one played more than 27 minutes. For young veterans like Durant, seeing rookies and second-year guys get extended minutes means more valuable experience and development of the team’s depth.

“It was good to just see us move the ball and get back to our defensive ways,” Durant said. “It was also good to see guys like Reggie, Lamb, and Perry get some minutes and use their time to get better.”

While this was a quality, full-team win, more than anything it was a learning opportunity for the Thunder. Responding to success is just as vital as responding to adversity, and fortunately Thunder veterans like Kendrick Perkins understand not to ride the rollercoaster of the way things change on a nightly basis in the NBA. Tonight’s game was a resounding success, but the Thunder will take the good and the bad and immediately move onto the next task come Tuesday morning at practice.

“You win or you lose and you move on and go to the next game,” Perkins said. “Make sure we come in locked in. Our goal for this season is not winning a game in November or losing a game in November. So we have to make sure we stay focused on what we have going on and just come to practice ready to work tomorrow. Make sure we stay focused, stay humble and stay locked in and the rest of it will take care of itself.

Turning Point:
The Thunder led 14-10 with 4:14 remaining in the first quarter, but then erupted for a 26-5 run that lasted until 8:20 remained in the second quarter. The Thunder built a 40-15 lead that would never dip below 23 the rest of the way thanks to a 19-2 run to close out the first half. Both runs were accentuated by impeccable defense, great rebounding and unselfish ball movement that led to open shots and easy scores.

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Great play drawn up by Coach Brooks to have Russell Westbrook to flip a pass to Kevin Martin then set a screen to free up Martin for an open jumper. Nice hustle to get back on defense then perfect positioning by Martin to take a charge in transition. Incredible second effort by Hasheem Thabeet to go after a loose offensive rebound, then Collison to do the same to get an extra possession. Kendrick Perkins crowds a ball-handler in the back court and his pressure forces a turnover. Picture-perfect passing as Perkins takes a Durant pass and unselfishly swings it from the lane into the corner for a Sefolosha three pointer.

Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Nice double-team down low by Thabeet and Maynor forces a late extra pass and good closeouts cause a 24-second violation. Thabeet ends up on the floor after trying to take a charge and grabs a loose rebound to get a jump ball, which he wins. Beautiful drive and dish work by multiples players leads to a Maynor to Perry Jones monster slam.



“It’s obviously one of our best games that we’ve played on both ends of the floor. It was a combination of a few things. We really played good basketball passing and defending.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks
!doctype>