Regular Season Recap - Thunder at Cavaliers


4 Blocked shots by Kendrick Perkins, a season high

10Steals for the Thunder, including three each from Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha

12 Rebounds by Serge Ibaka, along with 18 points for a double-double

15 Points for Kevin Martin, in addition to two assists in his homecoming to Ohio

22-11 Difference in second chance points in the Thunder’s favor

28 Points for Russell Westbrook, in addition to five assists

32 Points for Kevin Durant, in addition to 11 rebounds for a double-double

49.4 Shooting percentage for the Thunder


Feb. 2nd, 2013

In the NBA, no lead is safe and the margin between teams is extremely low. What most games come down to, therefore, is which team can execute and make the most plays late in the game.

On Saturday night Head Coach Scott Brooks’ Thunder squad didn’t make quite as many plays as the Cleveland Cavaliers, falling 115-110 in a thrilling game in Cleveland. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 60 points and the Thunder dominated in second chance points (22-11) and fast break points (10-5), but the Cavaliers scored 63 points in the second half, including 39 in the fourth quarter. The two teams were tied at 108 with just 1:26 remaining, but the Cavaliers scored on their final three possessions to get the win.

“Give them credit,” Brooks said. “They scored 63 points in the second half. I don’t know how many times we’ve given up that… We pride ourselves on the defensive end and we gave up too many points.”

The Thunder led by as many as 11 in this one, building a solid advantage mid-way through the third quarter behind the strong play of Serge Ibaka, who finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Early on, the Thunder’s defense was solid, considering it held the Cavaliers to 38.6 percent shooting in the first half, aided by Kendrick Perkins’ four blocks and toughness in the paint. The Cavaliers shot 16-for-24 in the fourth quarter, however, propelling them to victory.

“We just have to do a better job of playing defense in the fourth,” Durant said. “We were up 11 and we have to put them away. They’re at home too, so if they make a few shots they’re going to get some momentum.”

On offense the Thunder converted on 49.4 percent of its shot attempts, while also knocking down 21-of-26 free throw attempts. Even in the fourth quarter, the Thunder’s offense shot 61 percent from the floor while scoring 32 points, but unfortunately Brooks’ squad couldn’t get enough stops on defense. The Cavaliers’ All-Star point guard, second-year man Kyrie Irving, scored 13 of his team’s final 15 points as he continually squirmed his way into the lane for scoring opportunities.

“When we’re playing our brand of basketball, it’s defensive basketball and it’s chasing down every loose ball,” Brooks said. “Kyrie was really doing a good job of manipulating the pick and roll and finding openings for himself and his bigs.”

There were plenty of lessons to be learned in the tough road loss, and as Brooks explained, one of them was the need for a high level of defensive energy, effort and execution on each possession. Some of the specific aspects of those defensive principles are also areas where the Thunder will concentrate before it’s Monday night show-down at Chesapeake Energy Arena against the Dallas Mavericks.

“It’s a five man defense, and guys have to come over and help,” Durant said. “No excuses, we just have to be better.”

Turning Point:
The game was tied at 108 apiece with 1:26 remaining, but the Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving scored eight of the final ten points in the game. First Irving drove and made a tough layup, then after a Kevin Durant missed jumper, Irving stepped up and knocked down a clutch 26-foot three-pointer from the top of the key. Durant scored on a layup after a Thunder timeout, but Irving made a twisting bank shot with 38.9 seconds remaining to give the Cavaliers a 115-110 lead, which would end up being the final score.

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Nice hustle by Sefolosha to track down a loose ball in the corner. Perkins takes the ball in transition for a few dribbles to push tempo, then feeds Durant for an easy lane to the hoop. Wonderful touch pass by Perkins to Ibaka inside the paint, drawing a big foul. Ibaka continues to be relentless on the offensive glass, creating more opportunities. Beautiful back-door pass by Collison to Martin for a dunk. Martin sticks to his man and plays great defense to end the first quarter with a block. Collison slaps a missed shot back out to the three-point line for a teammate.

Plays the box score won't show:
Durant uses his length to knock away a pass intended for a Cavalier in the corner. Great hustle by Sefolosha and Perkins to protect the rim. Westbrook uses his length and athleticism to tip a steal to himself. Collison smartly steps in and draws a charge in transition defense. Perkins making multiple efforts, disrupting the Cavs possession after possession.

“We had a couple of good looks to keep us within striking distance, but we scored enough points to win. When you give up 115 when normally we only give up in the mid-90’s, that’s not our game. We definitely can win playing an up-and-down game, but we’re a defensive team and we didn’t play good enough defense tonight.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks