10 Assists for Russell Westbrook in addition to five rebounds, one steal and one block
22-13 The Thunder’s advantage in fast break points on the night
26 Points for Russell Westbrook, including 12-for-13 shooting from the free throw line
31-22 Scoring differential in the Thunder’s favor in the fourth quarter
33-for-34 Free throw shooting numbers for the Thunder, who made 32 straight to end the game
40 Points for Kevin Durant on 12-for-24 shooting, including 15-for-15 from the free throw line
42-38 Points in the paint edge for the Thunder
Feb. 14th, 2013
Losses are going to happen in the NBA. The measure of a team is how it responds to them throughout the night.
The Thunder trailed by as many as 23 against the Miami Heat on Thursday night, but scratched and clawed to make it a contest late in the fourth quarter. Despite being down by 19 points to start the fourth quarter, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club inched back to make it an 11-point deficit with five minutes to play. Unfortunately Miami quelled the Thunder run and made a few extra plays to hand the Thunder a 110-100 defeat heading into All-Star Weekend. Despite the loss, Thunder players like Thabo Sefolosha took pride in the fact that they battled back and didn’t roll over.
“We showed that we never give up,” Sefolosha said. “And that is the positive out of it. But at the same time, it was too late.”
Miami hit 21 field goals outside of the paint, and the Thunder outscored the Heat in points in the paint and in transition. That means that the Heat were doing a great job of executing in their offense and hitting contested two-point jumpers, whereas the Thunder had a bit of a cold night from the perimeter. Those nights happen throughout the course of the season, but the Thunder knows as a team with a 39-14 record, it must work to get better on both ends of the floor.
“We didn’t do a good enough job of executing and running through our sets,” Brooks said. “But that’s something that we have to continue to work on and build on going forward. I give them credit. They did a great job defensively early to start that game.”
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 66 points and the Thunder converted 33-of-34 free throws, including its final 32 attempts, to keep itself in the game. Westbrook said, and Durant agreed, that sticking together and never letting up is a part of the Thunder’s DNA. That was on display tonight as the Thunder hung in there despite a big deficit and simply tried to problem solve together, as a unit, to learn from what the game was telling them.
“I knew we were going to keep fighting,” Brooks said. “I knew the game would hopefully turn for us, and it did but it was too late. A lot of it is that they made us play this way. You have to give them credit.”
As with a win or a loss, the Thunder already has turned the page from this contest. While using it as valuable experience moving forward, the team’s attitude is always to look ahead to what it can control – the future. Durant and Westbrook will represent Oklahoma City in the All-Star Game in Houston this weekend, and all members of the Thunder will use the time to find ways to get better, rejuvenate and be refreshed heading into the final 29 games of the regular season.
“We have the break to think about it and get ready for our next game,” Durant said. “Guys are going to enjoy their all-star weekend and come back as a better team.”
The Thunder had all the momentum and outscored the Heat 19-11 to start the fourth quarter to bring the deficit to only 99-88 with 5:03 remaining in the half. On the next Heat possession, however, Shane Battier hit a three-pointer from the corner to extend the lead to 14. Serge Ibaka hit a floater but Mario Chalmers hit LeBron James for an alley-oop and then later made a fadeaway jumper with 1:56 remaining to give the Heat a 106-94 lead that sealed the game. The Thunder had a chance down ten points with 3:03 remaining, but couldn’t convert or get enough stops to complete the comeback.
Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Wonderful ballhandling and vision by Durant to lead a fast break and smartly give it up to Westbrook for a layup. Durant hustles back and takes away a baseball pass to stop a Heat fast break. Westbrook keeps his head up, fronts a post-up and steals it. Collison hustles to get on the floor and tie up Joel Anthony. Ibaka hustles to get on a loose ball and then wins the jump ball. Great patience by Sefolosha to step into the passing lane and stop a fast break.
Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Nice patience in the lane by Westbrook to find Ibaka on a bounce pass. Great hustle by Sefolosha to make back to back steals in the paint by using his length. Intelligence by Durant to wait for the double-team to come them hit Jackson for a wide-open three. Collison has great positioning and awareness to draw a charge. Quick hands by Martin then hustle by Collison to snag a loose ball.
“We were playing for pride. We knew it’s to come back from 20 down to start the fourth, but we just kept fighting. We made it a game. Unfortunately we didn’t make enough plays.” – Kevin Durant