Regular Season Recap: Thunder at Kings

THUNDER103

KINGS92
5 Number of Thunder players who scored in double figures on a night when the Thunder had all 10 players score

8 Blocks by Serge Ibaka on the night, part of 11 total blocks by the Thunder

9 Steals on the night by the Thunder, including three by James Harden

14 Rebounds for Kevin Durant on the night, part of the Thunder’s 45-42 rebounding advantage

21 Assists on the night by the Thunder, including 7 by Kevin Durant

27-12 Fast break points differential in the Thunder’s advantage on the night

29 Points for Kevin Durant on the night on 9-for-15 shooting, a game-high

53.3 Shooting percentage for the Thunder on the night

The Thunder finishes its road trip on Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles against the Lakers. Game time is 2:30 p.m. Central and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.

The Thunder then returns home to finish out the season at Chesapeake Energy Arena with games against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night and Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

“We just have to make sure we get our rest,” Perkins said. We’re going to LA for business and not fun, so we have to make sure we take care of our legs, our bodies and we’ll be ready.”
GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
The last time the Thunder visited Sacramento to face the Kings, an emotional crowd at Power Balance Pavilion willed its team to a come-from-behind victory. Thanks to the Thunder’s defensive intensity, offensive execution and diligence on both ends of the floor, Head Coach Scott Brooks’ crew was able to fend off every Kings charge in order to gain a 103-92 victory in its fourth battle in a five-game road trip. The Kings dominated the offensive glass in the first half, but the Thunder held Sacramento to only two offensive rebounds in the second half to keep the Kings at bay.

“It was very good, we did a couple of things well in the second half,” Brooks said. “I thought we made them miss shots and then when we did that, we rebounded the basketball… I thought we were really doing a good job of spreading the ball. Everybody had shots, everybody had opportunities to get looks.

Throughout the game the Thunder’s commitment to making the correct basketball play was obvious, even if the outcome wasn’t perfect. Kevin Durant’s night was a microcosm of that attempt to play its best basketball for 48 straight minutes. Durant pitched in 29 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists but it was more his style of play that dictated how the Thunder offense was going to play during the night. The two-time NBA scoring champion was clearly more interested in getting his teammates involved and contributing in the little ways, while he also happened to be the game’s leading scorer.

“Kevin was solid, that was a solid game, he filled out the stat sheet on just about every positive,” Brooks said. “He rebounded, he passed and he made his teammates get good looks… He has to continue to focus on making his teammates look better and get better and make them get easier shots and he did that tonight.”

Whether it was driving the lane to dump the ball off to Kendrick Perkins or boxing out the Kings’ big men to reel in one of his 13 defensive rebounds, Durant made sure to display his basketball instincts which have propelled him to three straight All-Star appearances. As the Thunder as a team continues to grow and develop, Durant’s leadership and emphasis on playing the game in an unselfish, team-first way will be crucial. After the game, Durant made sure to verbalize his attitude, while also praising big men Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins on their performance in the paint.

“I just tried to make the right play, whether it was a shot or a pass,” Durant said. They were converting on me and I had to find my bigs. They did a great job of finishing… Serge is a great shot blocker, the best in the league and Perk does a great job on the ball, so with those two, that combination is deadly.”

The Thunder used a stifling defensive effort that held the Kings to 41 percent shooting on the night in addition to holding Sacramento to only 38 points in the paint. Perkins and Ibaka helped the Thunder rack up 11 blocks, while the perimeter defenders forced 12 Kings turnovers that led to 20 Thunder points. In all, whether it was Thabo Sefolosha on the outside or the big men in the post, the Thunder’s defense was key to the win.

“We just had a great shell tonight,” Perkins said. “I thought we played good team defense and made them take contested twos. They came out early and hit a few, but we were living with that. That’s what our defense kept on, contested twos outside the paint”

TURNING POINT:
There were two turning points in this game, the first of which came at the end of the first quarter, when the Thunder turned a 21-20 deficit into a 32-23 lead with seven seconds remaining in the quarter. Russell Westbrook knocked down a midrange jumper then scored on a layup before finding Serge Ibaka on a dunk in the lane, then Kevin Durant scored four straight points before Derek Fisher finished at the rim with a driving finger roll. During that stretch the Kings missed eight straight shots, while the Thunder jumped out to a 12-2 run. The Kings never led after that, but did draw within three points with 6:20 remaining in the third quarter. From that moment on, the Thunder went on another 12-2 run to build a 13-point lead. Serge Ibaka got a dunk off a Westbrook pass, then Russell scored six out of the Thunder’s next eight points to help the Thunder jump back out to a double-digit lead heading into the fourth quarter.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Kevin Durant uses a powerful post up move to turn over his right shoulder for a floater, then Russell Westbrook makes a steal and slams it home… Durant flies back inside to block a DeMarcus Counsins dunk attempt, then he uses a nice Kendrick Perkins screen for a jump shot off a curl… Durant does an amazing job of making a steal in transition defense then feeds Perkins for a dunk in a 4-on-1… Westbrook skies for a defensive board then runs to the free throw line for a pull-up jumper… Durant finds Perkins again, then Sefolosha boxes out and skies high for a defensive board… Westbrook blocks a shot, then repositions himself to draw a charge as Serge Ibaka sends the ball away with a block… Perkins hustles to grab a loose ball and hits Durant to draw a foul… Ibaka stays aggressive to re-position and post up again, then Durant grabs a defensive board and sends it up court to Sefolosha for a dunk…. Ibaka makes a massive block then Perkins hits Durant with an outlet pass that Durant gives right back to Perkins for a dunk… Tough defensive then rebounding by Perkins, then Westbrook explodes to the basket for a lefty layup, then Westbrook feeds Ibaka for a slam off one hop… Great hustle by Derek Fisher and then Ibaka to stick with two loose balls, then Durant knocks down a bucket… Fisher ducks into the lane and hits a little finger roll in the lane… Harden makes a steal at the top of the key then uses some fancy work to make a layup, then Fisher hits Nazr Mohammed for his patented 15-foot jumper… Harden runs off a Collison set up to hop behind the three-point line for a three-pointer, then Collison and Mohammed make a steal… Harden returns the favor by making a slick over the head pass to Collison for a jumper… Good double-team by Collison to stop a baseline drive, then Westbrook tips a rebound to Harden before drawing a foul… Durant curls into the lane and hits a lefty leaner while drawing a foul, then he slips and slides into the lane to hit Perkins for a dunk off a lefty pass… Beautiful give-and-go from Westbrook-to-Ibaka-to-Westbrook for a pretty lefty layup… Perkins and Ibaka play physical defense down low then Harden frees himself up for a mid-range jumper… Ibaka and Perkins again team up to block multiple shots on the same possession.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Ibaka swats another shot at the rim, leading to a Westbrook run-out to draw a foul, then Sefolosha hits Durant for a three-pointer… Incredible awareness by Durant to grab the rebound then chuck it ahead to Perkins for a layup… Westbrook alertly makes a steal on an in-bounds pass then Ibaka tips in a miss, then Durant knocks down a three-pointer… Incredible vision from Westbrook to fake a pass to Durant then hitting a cutting Ibaka for a slam dunk, then a great pump fake by Westbrook to free himself up for a bank shot… Ibaka flies across the lane and makes a block as Durant takes the ball in transition and dishes to Westbrook for a layup… Perfect box out by Collison to get a defensive rebound… Mohammed stays straight up on defense and Collison skies up to grab a transition rebound then Collison sets up Harden with a screen for a three-pointer… Daequan Cook hits a nice jumper, then Fisher hustles back to make a steal… Harden drives into the lane and flushes home a huge slam dunk… Strong defense and rebounding by Durant and Ibaka then Ibaka pulls down an offensive board for a putback… Harden hustles to the corner to knock away a pass to the corner that would have been a corner three-pointer, then Durant makes a steal and races down court after an Ibaka block… Westbrook hits Sefolosha to hit Durant for a jumper to end the game.