Regular Season Recap: Thunder at Hornets

THUNDER 95

HORNETS 85
3 Consecutive double-double games (points, rebounds) by Kevin Durant.

6.3 Hornets’ 3-point shooting percentage (1-for-16).

7 Assists by Russell Westbrook.

9 Lead changes in the second quarter.

10 Blocks by the Thunder.

12 Thunder’s biggest lead.

25 Consecutive games Serge Ibaka has had at least one blocked shot.

50 The Thunder’s shooting percentage to end the first half.

78.6 Kevin Durant’s shooting percentage from the field after starting 0-for-3.



The Thunder has two days off before hosting the New York Knicks at 7 p.m. Saturday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The game will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.

“We just have to look forward to keep pushing it, keep building on it and hopefully we’ll do a good job next game,” forward Kevin Durant said. “You can always get better, I think that’s one thing, we’re never complacent here, so we just have to keep pushing.”

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
The game in New Orleans didn’t start the way Head Coach Scott Brooks had hoped, but through grit, determination and a masterful second-half defensive performance, the Thunder returned home with its 10th victory of the season.

The Hornets jumped out to leads of 8-0 and 19-9, but the Thunder clawed back and posted a 95-85 victory to complete a back-to-back road sweep.

“I don’t think we came out and played very well to start the game,” Brooks said. “Those games, that’s going to happen with the long season, but that’s why you need a team. You need a team to come in and come through for the whole group.”

That collective group mentality is why every player in the Thunder rotation made an impact. With a 19-9 run during the first and second quarters and a quick 6-0 burst to start the third, the Thunder took the game from a New Orleans team that was shooting the ball well early. The Hornets were limited to 37 second-half points.

“We want to be able to defend, contest, rebound and run, and in that order,” Brooks said. “Our guys understand that. We are an effort-based team and when we play like that we’re fun to coach and those guys enjoy playing with each other, and that’s what the game is supposed to be about.”

The Thunder finished with 10 fast-break points, but they all came in the second half. Once Russell Westbrook broke a 50-50 tie with a jumper 52 seconds into the third quarter, the Hornets never got closer than three the rest of the way.

Turning Point:
There were two in the game, the first starting with 1:48 left in the first quarter and continuing till the 8:08 mark of the second. The Thunder erased a nine-point deficit with a 19-9 run that featured a 3-point shot and three-point play from rookie Reggie Jackson and eight consecutive points from James Harden.

The second turning point surfaced when Kevin Durant got hot. He started the game 0-for-3 from the field, but went 11-for-14 the rest of the way. He scored five consecutive points when the Thunder broke open a 50-50 tie with a 9-0 run that included two baskets by Russell Westbrook, a block by Kendrick Perkins and three Hornets turnovers.

The Thunder wasn’t seriously challenged the rest of the way.

Plays the box score won’t show, first half
Behind the back Russell Westbrook pass to Thabo Sefolosha, who draws a defender at the 3-point line and kicks it to an open Durant for 3. … Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka forcing the Hornets’ Chris Kaman into difficult misses. … Dump off by Durant to Nick Collison for a dunk and then a block on the other end. … Nazr Mohammed tipping the ball out to Reggie Jackson, which results in two Collison free throws. Collison then changed a shot on the other end and scored on an inbounds play to make it 25-20. … Mohammed sets a screen to free Jackson for a 3. … Great pick by Collison to free James Harden for a 3-pointer. ... Nice backdoor pass from Collison to Harden for a layup to tie it at 34-34 with 8:45 left, then Collison gets a strip on defense. … Mohammed and Collison working together to trap a Hornet and force a steal. … Extra passes from Durant and Westbrook to find Harden in the corner for 3 with 3:04 left in the half to make it 45-43. … Great pressure defense from Harden to force a turnover on the Hornets’ next possession.

Plays the box score won’t show, second half
Thunder defense forcing a shot clock violation, then Durant hitting a jumper to put the Thunder up 54-50. … Perkins getting a block, then Durant finishing on the other end to go up 56-50. … Westbrook with a steal and a layup to put the Thunder up 59-50 with 8:30 left in the third quarter. … Ibaka with an incredible block, the 25th consecutive game with a block for Ibaka. … Slick bounce pass on a drive from Durant to Mohammad for a dunk. … Nice passing from Harden and Collison to get Mohammad open for another easy bucket. … Incredible bounce pass along the baseline from Harden to find Daequan Cook for a corner 3. … Great no-look pass from Harden to Collison for an easy layup. … Collison punching away a rebound to prevent a put-back by New Orleans. … Perkins making a perfect pass on a back-cut by Sefolosha for an uncontested layup…