Regular Season Recap: Thunder vs Hornets

HORNETS 93

THUNDER 101
4 Thunder players with three or more assists

6 Blocks by Kendrick Perkins, a season-high

9 Number of Thunder players who played and scored tonight

11 Total steals by the Thunder defense on the night, as eight different players recorded a steal

13 Rebounds for Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka each, as they combined for 26 rebounds

16-6 The Thunder's fast break points advantage on the evening

26 The Thunder's biggest lead on the night, which happened in the third quarter

31 Points for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each, as they combined for 62 one night after combining for 91

The Thunder will continue its home stand when it hosts the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. Game time is 6:00 p.m. Central and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.

The Thunder then finishes it's fifth straight home game with the second night of a back-to-back when it hosts the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night. The NBA then takes a break for All-Star Weekend in Orlando, where the Thunder will be represented by Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Head Coach Scott Brooks and his coaching staff. After the break, the Thunder embarks on a three-game East Coast road trip to Philadelphia, Orlando and Atlanta.

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
Less than 24 hours removed from an emotional, hard-fought, overtime thriller against the Denver Nuggets, the Thunder could have easily had a let down tonight against the New Orleans Hornets. Instead, it burst out to one of its best first quarters on the season with a 31-18 lead after 12 minutes and used toughness and physicality to keep the Hornets at arms length for a 101-93 victory. All nine players who saw time on the court scored thanks to high energy levels from players like Cole Aldrich and Royal Ivey, but it was Kendrick Perkins' 13 rebounds and six blocks that really marked this contest as the Thunder defense held the Hornets to 36.3% shooting.

"I thought we came out with great energy," Head Coach Scott Brooks said. "Our guys came out and really defended very well and we moved the ball and took a lot of good shots in the first half. I thought there were a lot of good things tonight and there was some bad things that we have to keep addressing and look at and watch film on. I thought Perk gave us great energy. Defensively he set the tone guarding Kaman who has been playing pretty well as of late."

Perkins spent the majority of his time defending Chris Kaman, and held him to a 4-of-17 shooting night for only 12 points. Whether it was blocking his shot, harrassing him into difficult fall-away jump shots or simply keeping him out of the lane, Perkins was disruptive and performed his role to the best of his ability. While Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will get attention for their combined 62 points (31 apeice), Perkins realized that it was his duty to be the enforcer down low. Never the one to take credit, the 8-year pro talked mostly of how much of a team victory it was, while reluctantly acknowledging just how important he is to this team.

"I just wanted to come out and set the tone defensively," Perkins said. "I just wanted to bounce back and do what I need to do. I just try to keep it up, obviously I would like for us to finish the game off a little better, but at the end of the day, I think it was a good team win. I just want to play well. I just wanted to come out with the mindset and the focus that I had to get it done (while) playing for the team. Just going out there doing what I need to do for us to get the 'W'.

Perkins, however, did have a point, which is that it took nearly the full Thunder roster to gut out a victory with players missing from the rotation. Guards Eric Maynor and Thabo Sefolosha were already out, but the Thunder also missed Lazar Hayward (orbital floor fracture), Nick Collison (quad contusion) and James Harden (ankle sprain) tonight. As a result, players like Royal Ivey and Cole Aldrich stepped up and played 21 and 19 minutes apiece respectively, helping the Thunder achieve balance on the court. Aldrich saw minutes with the first unit starting with just under three minutes left in the first quarter, while Ivey continued his 3-point shooting display, knocking down two corner 3's on the night. Thanks to all nine players who saw the court, the Thunder brought energy, focus and intensity from the get-go to push away the special memories of the Denver win and lock in on tonight's game.

"I think it's good, especially after the win that we had last night, an emotional game and a game that took a lot of energy to win," Aldrich said. "Just coming out here, we had a lot of energy early. I thought it was really good the way we started the game. I think that's been our focus all year, just to take it one game at a time and stay together."

TURNING POINT:
The turning point in this one came early on, as the Thunder turned a four-point edge into a 13-point advantage in the span of two minutes at the end of the first quarter. it was 18-14 Thunder with 2:58 left in the quarter when Russell Westbrook got to the rim for a layup. Cole Aldrich then jumped on the ground and gave the Thunder a spark by causing a tie-up on a loose ball. Westbrook then hit a jump shot and Reggie Jackson assisted three straight shots as Daequan Cook, Royal Ivey and Aldrich all hit shots to make it 29-16 with 52.1 seconds left in the quarter.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Tough defense by Kendrick Perkins on the opening possession to stop a Trevor Ariza drive and then grab the defensive board. He then found Durant on a cut the next time down court... Nice driving floater by Daequan Cook in the lane... Serge Ibaka picking up where he left off by getting an offensive rebound and putback and then making a block on the other end... Quick hands by Cook and Russell Westbrook to make a steal... Good job by Westbrook to contest Chris Kaman's shot by putting a hand in his face, then nice anticipation to deflect a ball on the other end... Great awareness by Perkins to find Durant for a 3-pointer off an offensive rebound... Good defensive instincts from Royal Ivey to make a strip then lead the fast break... Beautiful split of a double team off of a tough Perkins screen by Westbrook to get to the rim-and-one... Good hustle by Cole Aldrich to get on the floor for a loose ball.. Nice box out by Nazr Mohammed on Lance Thomas to get a defensive rebound... Perfect technique by Cook to square his body on a curl, then a tough inside play to grab a loose rebound... Nice job by Reggie Jackson to stick with the ball and make a steal and slam dunk... Tough box out by Perkins, then a good swing pass from Durant to Ivey for his 2nd 3-pointe ron the night... A lot of smiling faces on the floor after Westbrook knocks down a tough lefty layup and gets the free throw to boot... Durant anticipates a lead pass and takes it the other way for a slam that brings the crwod to its feet!... Grittiness on both ends of the court by Perkins to rebound the basketball... Great job of jumping the passing lane and then finishing by Durant on a steal and lay-in.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Good perseverence by Ibaka to get the offensive rebound, stick with it after getting blocked and then get the put-back... A double-block by Perkins and Ibaka... Talkative defensive communication between Ibaka and Durant... Huge block on a great rotation by Cole Aldrich... Great way to run the floor by Ibaka to get the dunk-and-one... Nice shake-and-bake move by Durant to hit a floater in the lane... Heady play by Mohammed to tap out a rebound to try to give the Thunder another chance at the rim... Nice job by Ivey to strip the ball on a New Orleans drive... Good job of staying down by Cole Aldrich to get another block... Nice rebound in the lane by Cook then a nifty pass by Jackson to Mohammed for a reverse lay-up... Great job of contesting by Mohammed on a dunk attempt... Beautiful move by Durant to lose his defender thanks to a Perkins screen and knock down a jumper... Perfect passing between Durant, Perkins and Aldrich for a dunk... Excellent positioning by Perkins to help the Thunder track down a loose rebound... Westbrook incredibly quick with the dribble to get to the rim and draw a foul... Great show of length by Durant to block a shot and then a heads up play by Perkins to tip it out for a run-out... Good job of staying straight up by Perkins to stop a drive, then nice hops to get his sixth block of the game... Nice work by Westbrook to get into the lane and draw a foul to keep the Hornets at arms length... Incredible hustle by Perkins, Ibaka and Durant to force a turnover and pick up a loose ball... Grittiness to grab the final loose ball of the game by Ibaka .