6 Number of career triple doubles for Russell Westbrook after his 23-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist night
8 Blocked shots for Serge Ibaka on the night, a season-high, part of 12 for the Thunder
11 Lead changes in the game, which also featured 10 ties
17 Points for Kevin Martin on 6-for-12 shooting, including 5-for-6 shooting on two-point attempts
24 Assists for the Thunder on the night on 40 made baskets
30 Points for Kevin Durant on 10-for-19 shooting, in addition to eight rebounds and five assists
53.3-37.8 The shooting percentage differential between the Thunder and the Bucks
March 30th, 2013
The game pressure was on as the Thunder trailed by five early in the fourth quarter, but the squad didn’t blink.
After a timeout by Head Coach Scott Brooks, the Thunder went on a game-changing 19-2 run fueled by unselfish offense but mostly lock-down, intense defense en route to a 109-99 road victory. On the night the Thunder held the Milwaukee Bucks to just 37.8 percent shooting from the field while blocking 12 shots and making seven steals as a team. The Thunder’s perimeter defense was especially tight tonight, as the team held Bucks guards Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings to a combined 6-for-30 shooting.
“Our guys did a good job of just getting after it,” Brooks said. “They had a mentality of not to be the one that got scored on. We talk about that during our timeouts and that was well executed by our guys. Not one player on the court was going to let their man have an easy bucket.”
On the off chance that the Bucks were able to get past the Thunder’s perimeter defenders, Serge Ibaka was waiting in the lane to swat away anything that came his way. The NBA leader in rejections blocked a season-high eight shots on the night, while also scoring 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting and snagging seven rebounds. His presence, more than anything, was a factor because he impacted twice as many shots by simply forcing missed shots due to wary Bucks shooters.
“Like players get into offensive zones, he gets in a defensive zone,” Brooks said. “He was quick on his feet and he was exploding above the rim and making guys miss shots.”
Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Derek Fisher and Reggie Jackson locked down on the perimeter, with Fisher doing a particularly effective job of forcing JJ Redick into a 4-for-12 shooting night. The team’s mentality, always strong after a loss in the previous game, was to not give an inch on the defensive end. With Westbrook at the top of the defense and Ibaka patrolling the back line, the Thunder did a great job of bouncing back and getting a win.
“Just play hard, come out and play our game,” Westbrook said. “(Ibaka) has been great all season. He’s the best shot blocker in the league and he showed it tonight.”
After making those defensive stops, the Thunder also made sure to spread the wealth on the offensive end. Westbrook recorded his sixth career triple double and first of the season with a stunning 23-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist effort. His fellow All-Star Kevin Durant had 30 points on 10-for-19 shooting while Kevin Martin and Nick Collison combined for 27 points on 11-for-18 shooting. It was the way the Thunder distributed the ball, with 24 total assists, that helped so many players get easy buckets and for the team to shoot 53.3 percent for the game.
“We’ve been much better throughout this year finding better shots,” Brooks said. “If someone has a great shot, it’s automatic, you give it to them. Make the extra pass. They did that tonight. Hopefully we can just continue to build on this game.”
It was a back-and-forth game and the Thunder trailed 92-87 with 8:39 remaining in the contest, but the Thunder embarked on a 19-2 run over the next seven minutes to change the game completely. It started when Head Coach Scott Brooks called a timeout, then the Thunder executed on offense and locked in on defense. Nick Collison got a dunk from Kevin Durant, who then drove baseline for a dunk. After that the Thunder forced a turnover and got Kevin Martin free for an easy bucket. Durant knocked down two free throws and Westbrook hit Collison for two easy dunks to give the Thunder a seven point lead. After a Serge Ibaka tip-in, Westbrook hit Durant for a three-pointer and made a pull-up jumper to cap the run.
Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Great relocation by Sefolosha into the corner so he could create a passing lane for Westbrook to dish him the ball. Strong screen by Perkins on the wing frees up Durant for a jumper. Unselfishness by Sefolosha and Durant on the wings to move the ball around the perimeter to Westbrook for a three-pointer. Nice hustle by Jackson and Durant to get back in transition and force a missed layup. Perfect ball movement by Durant and Westbrook on a pick-and-roll to hit Martin in the corner for three. Incredible hustle by Westbrook to slap the ball off a Bucks player to retain possession.
Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Westbrook hustles and tips a defensive rebound out to Perkins to get possession for the Thunder. Perfect pass from Westbrook to Ibaka in the pick and roll for a dunk. Beautiful low post move by Ibaka gives him separation in the paint for an easy bucket. Wonderful two-man game in the side pick and roll between Durant and Ibaka to get two easy dunks. Smart pump fake by Martin to draw a foul. Strong defensive rebound by Collison to box out and out-muscle two men.
“It was a very intense game, it was a playoff-type of game. Both teams just laid it out there. I thought our defense in that fourth quarter made the difference.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks