KINGS 103
THUNDER 113
5 Players who scored in double figures for the Thunder, making the team 11-0 when that occurs

7 Assists for Eric Maynor, part of 29 assists for the Thunder as a team on 41 made field goals

10-for-14 The efficient shooting numbers of Kevin Durant, who finished with 31 points

11 Rebounds for Serge Ibaka to go with 18 points, part of his third double-double of the year

13 Assists for Russell Westbrook, tying his season-high and coinciding with 13 points for a double-double

15 Points for Thabo Sefolosha, a season-high, on 5-for-9 shooting

18 Points for Kevin Martin, increasing his season average, in addition to five rebounds

22 Number of free throws the Thunder made without missing on the night

43 Rebounds to the Thunder, who had a +14 rebounding margin and a +7 margin on the offensive boards

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
It takes every man on the roster to create a victory in the NBA, starting in practice and the film room and then on the court each night.

Tonight was no different for the Thunder as it got contributions from just about every source on the court to finish off a 113-103 team victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Nick Collison was snagging offensive rebounds, Thabo Sefolosha was knocking down open shots and Kendrick Perkins was being physical underneath, and all those little things contributed to victory. Perhaps the area that was most prominent was rebounding, where Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team held a 43-29 edge and committed to boxing out and crashing the boards on both ends.

“That’s always a big part of our defense,” Brooks said. “We want to continue to bottle up the basketball. We want to continue to contest shooters and finish up the defense with a rebound. Any time we out-rebound our opponent, we are usually very happy with the results, and that’s always been a point going into every game is rebound the basketball, and that’s what we did tonight.”

Serge Ibaka hauled in 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the year, while Perkins added eight, Collison snagged six and Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin combined for 10 boards. That total team focus also translated to the scoring column, where Sefolosha set a season-high with 15 points while Ibaka and Martin knocked in 18 points apiece. All of that was aided by fantastic floor spacing and the threat of the incredibly efficient Durant, who scored 31 points on only 14 shot attempts.

“We’re such a balanced team,” Durant said. “Any given night anybody can go off. Thabo was really good for us tonight, Martin did his usual, and Russell got everyone involved. Serge was good tonight as well, and Perk (Kendrick Perkins) also. We have guys like that contributing on both ends of the floor all night, so it’s tough to stop.”

Those Thunder scorers were aided by the engine of the Thunder offense, Russell Westbrook. He conducted, orchestrated and facilitated things in the half-court and in transition throughout the night, working around or between screens in order to create advantage situations in the lane. Westbrook had eight of his season-high-tying 13 assists in the first half alone, when he led the Thunder offense to 61 points on 47.7 percent shooting.

“I thought Russell did a terrific job to start the game that first half,” Brooks said. “He was passing, he got us easy shots. He was demanding the double team and kicking it out quickly.”

One play that seems to be working particularly well for Westbrook of late has been the pick-and-pop with Serge Ibaka, who knocked in eight shots, including two in the final three minutes that put the game out of reach. When Westbrook comes around Ibaka’s screen he forces two defenders to pay attention to him in fear of a drive to the basket, which provides an easy dish-off pass either over the top or on one bounce to Ibaka for a set shot.

“I’m just getting into the paint and kicking the ball out to guys that are open,” Westbrook said. “You just have to be patient and let him space up and get his feet set.”

Throughout the night Westbrook showed his leadership, not necessarily by knocking down a tough shot, but by simply playing strong, firm defense, pulling his team together and tugging on the right strings to find scoring opportunities for his teammates. As Westbrook has matured as a player, his role as a facilitator, ball-handler and passer has expanded alongside the shooting ability of teammates like Sefolosha, Martin, Durant and Ibaka.

“He finds guys, you know that’s what we want,” Brooks said. “Our bigs are going to have to continue to be ready to catch the ball because he’s looking, he’s finding and we’ve done a good job with our spacing. I think that’s helping him and helping all of our players.”

Turning Point:
The Thunder had built a 24 point lead during the fourth quarter only to see the Kings claw back to within five points with 3:21 remaining. The Thunder responded by getting three straight stops while also scoring on three straight offensive trips to push the lead back up to 11 and essentially sealing the victory. Kevin Durant willed his way to a bucket by putting back his own miss, then Russell Westbrook fed Serge Ibaka for two baskets in a row – a 16-foot jumper and then a layup.

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Great use of the pump fake by Serge Ibaka to draw a foul on a post-up move. Beautiful passing as a driving Durant hit Ibaka, who then swung it to Perkins who turned and fired to Westbrook in the corner. Nice dive to the bucket by Perkins to catches a pass from Durant and finishes at the cup. Great job by Thabo to rush over on a closeout to knock away a cross-court pass. Incredible anticipation by Martin to sneak in and make a steal, then flip it behind him to Westbrook to start the break.

Plays the box score won't show, second half:
Perfect pocket bounce pass by Durant to Ibaka for a mid-range jumper at the elbow. Ibaka fights hard on the glass on both ends of the floor to snag rebounds and tip balls to teammates. Beautiful wrap-around pass by Maynor for Collison for a one-dribble layup. Great unselfishness by Sefolosha and Maynor to pass back and forth until Sefolosha got an open shot. Martin yells out “shot” when an opponent takes a jumper, letting Collison know to immediately turn around and box out.



“We did a great job of playing together from the start. We missed a few early, again, but we just kept playing defense. Those guys hit a few shots, but we stuck with our defense. The guys were moving the ball. 29 assists, you can’t beat that. Everybody was playing together on both ends.” – Kevin Durant
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