THUNDER116
BOBCATS94
3 Blocked shots for Hasheem Thabeet, who also had eight points and eight rebounds

3-for-3 Three-point shooting for Thabo Sefolosha on his way to 13 points

12 Players who scored for the Thunder, including six who scored in double figures

13 Points for Derek Fisher on the night, on 5-for-6 shooting

28 Assists for the Thunder tonight, including a game-high seven for Kevin Durant

49-37 Rebounding advantage for the Thunder on the night

56 Bench points for the Thunder. Seven different reserve players scored for the Thunder

56.8 Shooting percentage for the Thunder on the evening, including 12-for-24 from the three-point line

GAME IN REVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
March 8th, 2013

RECAP:
CHARLOTTE – Sometimes all it takes is one burst for a game to turn on its head.

Head Coach Scott Brooks’ Thunder squad went into the first quarter break down one point to the Charlotte Bobcats, but came out in the second quarter with a lockdown defensive mentality, scoring the first 19 points of the period. Using that major run by its second unit, the Thunder was able to keep the momentum going by holding the Bobcats to only 16 third quarter points en route to a 116-94 road victory on Friday night.

“Defensively, that second quarter was really good,” Brooks said. “The second unit came in and did a good job. Hasheem (Thabeet) and Nick (Collison) and all of our guys did a good job of locking in and playing defense. The ball movement was good that quarter also.”

The unit featuring Reggie Jackson, Derek Fisher, Kevin Martin, Nick Collison and Hasheem Thabeet protected the paint, prevented penetration and forced the Bobcats into long missed jumpers throughout that second quarter. The Bobcats missed nine straight shots and turned the ball over twice during the Thunder’s 21-0 explosion, and that energy helped the Thunder outscore the Bobcats by 25 points in the second and third quarters combined.

The second unit’s performance inspired Kevin Durant and the starters when they re-entered the game, helping the Thunder finish its 13th game of the season when its starters didn’t have to suit up in the fourth quarter.

“They were playing defense, making them miss and getting out and passing the ball,” Durant said. “They did a great job of that. They got us going… It was a good win.”

When the defense shut down the Bobcats on one end of the floor, it made it easier for the Thunder to operate on the offensive end. By getting out in transition then working the entire halfcourt in its offensive sets to get balanced scoring up and down the roster. Six Thunder players scored in double figures and 12 of the 13 men who saw action got into the scoring column.

In fact, the Thunder got 56 points from its bench on the evening, including 24 combined points from Kevin Martin and Derek Fisher. Both players made their mark from behind the three-point line, combining to go 6-for-9 from deep. On the night, the Thunder was 12-for-24 from distance, stretching the floor and kicking to the open man.

“We’re a good three-point shooting team,” Brooks said. “We always tell our guys, if you spot up, make sure you’re behind the line. As a team we nearly shoot 40 percent. Anytime our guys have open threes, we want them to shoot it without hesitation. Their teammates believe in it and the coaching staff believes in it. Tonight the ball movement was good.”

All night, it seemed, the Thunder was able to drive and dish or move the ball from side to side along the perimeter to create passing lanes that carved through the defense. By hitting big men in the high post, creating openings through the pick-and-roll and then spreading the floor, the Thunder was able to kick out to open three-point shooters like Martin, Fisher and Thabo Sefolosha, who was 3-for-3 from behind the arc. Those opportunities were set up by off-ball screens from guys like Kendrick Perkins and Collison, then proper movement off the ball by the Thunder’s spot-up shooters.

“First off, it’s the screens,” Durant explained. “Our bigs set great screens, then it’s the spacing. We preach that every single day. Thabo and K- Mart, they shoot the ball so well, but they (opponents) also have to pay attention to Russell, Reggie and myself in pick and rolls. It’s kind of like pick your poison with us. I think we have so many good shooters, especially from the corner three, we feel confident we can make them.”

It is nights like these where every player gets involved that are great for team chemistry, camaraderie and balance. There were learning opportunities for guys like Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones, as well as Thabeet who finished with eight points, eight rebounds and three blocks. The Thunder’s mentality, win or lose, has always been to compartmentalize and focus on the task at hand. After tonight’s win the team’s attention immediately turned to Sunday’s home game against the Boston Celtics, despite being pleased with the victory.

“Everybody was getting involved, we had good spacing and good movement,” Brooks said. “Guys were moving the ball, playing the right way and making shots. I’m happy with the way we played, now it’s time to move on to the next game.”

Turning Point:
The Thunder trailed 29-26 with 40 seconds left in the first quarter, but from there on out, it was a completely different game. Kevin Martin made a pull-up jumper on the left wing that ignited a 21-0 run by the Thunder that turned the game around. After the quarter ended the Thunder reeled off 19 consecutive points to take a 47-29 lead with 6:45 remaining in the second quarter. Coming out of the quarter break, the Thunder got two put-backs from Hasheem Thabeet, eight points from Derek Fisher and a bucket apiece from Reggie Jackson, Nick Collison and Martin. On the other end, the Thunder forced nine straight missed shots and two turnovers.

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Great vision and patience by Perkins in the high post, making the skip pass to find Sefolosha in the corner for a three. Sefolosha and Westbrook hustle to knock the ball away and disrupt a possession. Good work by Ibaka to stay active and run the floor to clean up a tipped pass for a bucket. Heady play by Sefolosha to dive to the hoop and soft touch from Durant on the pass. Solid defense by Sefolosha to force a 24-second violation. Wonderful ball movement by Jackson, Martin and Collison to free up Fisher for a three pointer.

Plays the box score won't show:
Ibaka comes over and rises up to force a missed shot simply with his presence in the paint. Ibaka hustles back in transition defense to swat away a sure layup from behind. Beautiful lefty one-handed pass by Westbrook to Durant on a broken play to find Durant for a dunk. Jones hustles and tips a loose offensive rebound to Thabeet. Thabeet hustles and makes a basket saving block from behind. Jones comes across the lane in help defense to make a block.



“It was a good game for us. We moved the ball well, the second unit played well. I thought our second unit came in and we wanted to play up to their level and in the third quarter we did a great job.” – Kevin Durant