CLIPPERS 111
THUNDER 117
5 Steals for Kevin Durant on the night, tying a career-high

5 Number of players who scored in double figures for the Thunder, making the team 6-0 when five or more players score in double figures

9 Assists for Russell Westbrook on the night, including five in the first quarter.

10 Points for Hasheem Thabeet, tying a career high. Thabeet went 4-for-4 shooting from the field

12 ARebounds for Serge Ibaka, to go with 15 points for his first double-double of the season

15-9 The amount by which the Thunder outscored the Clippers in overtime

34-for-39 Free throw shooting by the Thunder on the night, good for 87 percent

35 Points for Kevin Durant on the night, including 19-for-21 shooting from the free throw line

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
When it gets down to crunch time, the Thunder knows there’s only one thing that matters- defense.

In the end of a thrilling, roller-coaster of a game against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Thunder saw a late fourth quarter lead turn into an overtime test, but eventually won the battle of wills to get a 117-111 victory. A gutty performance by the Thunder to fight through adversity was most obvious in the play of Russell Westbrook, who along with Thabo Sefolosha shut down the Clippers perimeter duo of Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford in overtime. Westbrook and his team’s attitude late was simple.

“Just lock up, that’s it,” Westbrook said. “Sit down and defend like we know how to… I think we did a good job of getting steals, getting key rebounds.”

The Thunder held the Clippers to 43 percent shooting on the night, and while sometimes the ball didn’t quite bounce its way and it let up more offensive rebounds than it would have liked, the Thunder found ways to get stops in overtime when it had to. Whether it was Westbrook denying Crawford the ball or Sefolosha staying in front of Paul and fighting through screens, the Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club got the job done.

“Our execution was good defensively,” Brooks said. “That’s what we talk about every game, keeping (the opponents’ shooting percentage) in the low 40’s and we did that tonight. But that’s not an easy thing to do against this team.”

Sefolosha was a key factor in forcing Paul, the perennial All-Star, into a 2-for-14 shooting night from the floor, including 0-for-3 from the three-point line. The Thunder’s team defense all night was solid as it forced Blake Griffin to shoot long two-point jumpers and contained Paul to a good degree. The Swiss guard’s length and footwork was certainly a factor, but the humble defensive stopper was quick to credit his teammates, particularly bigs like Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.

“I rely on the help a lot, the big men,” Sefolosha said. “They did a great job tonight helping me… I think the key thing is to be in tune… As long as we have some help from the back side, we’ll be okay.”

Another Thunder big who made a big impact tonight was Hasheem Thabeet, who came in off the bench and boosted Brooks’ second unit. In only 12 minutes of action, Thabeet scored 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting to go with four rebounds. A more subtle thing Thabeet did throughout the night was box out strongly on the defensive glass drawing multiple fouls on the Clippers by simply getting better position on the block.

“(Assistant coach Mark Bryant) says to do your work early,” Thabeet said. “It pays off every time. Every time when the ball goes up I’m already boxing out, and they can’t do anything but foul me. Just do my work early and stay aggressive.”

Partially in thanks to Thabeet, the Thunder finished with five players scoring in double figures for the fifth time this season, making Brooks’ squad 6-0 on those occasions. Kevin Martin scored an efficient 20 points on only ten shots, while Westbrook and Kevin Durant scored a combined 58 points. Durant, who shot only 7-for-19 from the floor, realized getting to the free throw line would be key. Durant shot a season-best 19-for-21 from the free throw line and the Thunder as a whole went 34-for-39, which was a major boost to the team’s offensive production.

“We just try to get there,” Durant said. “I just try to keep going. My teammates told me to keep being aggressive and that’s what I try to do.”

Turning Point:
The turning point in this one looked like it might happen twice in the fourth quarter, but the Thunder made a final push in the overtime period to seal the win. With 2:29 remaining in overtime, the Thunder led 108-107 when Russell Westbrook hit a gutty mid-range jumper then the Thunder forced a missed long three-pointer by Jamal Crawford and a Chris Paul turnover. The Thunder converted seven of eight free throws down the stretch to get the win.

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Thabo Sefolosha out-muscles the much bigger DeAndre Jordan and tips a defensive rebound to himself, then Westbrook recognizes an advantage situation and hits Sefolosha for three. Incredibly unselfish play as Sefolosha drove and kicked to Westbrook, who swung it to Durant, who drove and dished to a relocated Sefolosha for a corner three. Great awareness by Collison to step in on the drive and draw a charge.

Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Durant smartly anticipates a lob pass and knocks it away to save an opposing dunk. Ibaka battles underneath with a strong box out to let Kevin Durant swoop in for the rebound. Sefolosha hustels to tip an offensive rebound to Ibaka to get the possession back. Great job of fronting the screen by Collison to force a bad over-the-top pass.



“I thought that was a hard fought basketball game. I thought both teams really laid it on the line. Defensively, they’re tough to match up against and I thought we did a good job of making them take some tough shots… I thought both teams played extremely hard and our crowd was phenomenal, as always.” – Head Coach Scott Brooks
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