Regular Season Recap: Thunder vs Lakers

LAKERS 85

THUNDER 100
3 Second half turnovers by the Thunder

5 Number of points the Thunder scored in the last 0.8 seconds of the first half, off a Russell Westbrook 3-pointer and a steal-and-shot by Kevin Durant at the buzzer

6 Assists apiece for Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant

9 Blocked shots by the Thunder, including five by Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka combined

13 Rebounds by Serge Ibaka, to go along with his 11 points for a double-double

21-6 The fast break points advantage for the Thunder tonight

38-34 The advantage in points in the paint for the Thunder on the evening

44 Rebounds by the Thunder, three more than the Lakers, who came into the game as the NBA's best rebounding team

The Thunder will take a break for All Star Weekend in Orlando, but return to action on Wednesday in Philadelphia against the 76ers. Game time is 6:00 p.m. Central and will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.

The Thunder then continues its road trip to Orlando to face the Magic on Thursday and to Atlanta to take on the Hawks on Saturday before coming home for five straight games at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
Time and time again, the Los Angeles Lakers fed big men Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol down in the low post tonight, and each time they were met with tough, savvy defenders who bodied them up. Because of the effort down low by Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka, the Thunder was able to both out-rebound the Lakers and also keep Bynum and Gasol in check. Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks loved what he saw from all of his defenders throughout tonight, but it was Perkins' and Ibaka's ability to play straight up defense without fouling that forced the Lakers into difficult shots all night, and a 38.5 percent shooting night.

"I think it was a great basketball game," Brooks said. "It was a physical game, it was a game of physical and mental toughness. Our bigs, you're so proud of them every night because they come and give you everything they have. They defend, they rebound, they set screens. They are the unsung heroes on our team. They come in and do it every day, every day at practice, every game. They allow dynamic athletes to get open looks and get shots in transition. I though Perk and Serge did a terrific job of making their bigs earn every spot on the floor. They weren't allowing them to get easy position and when they got it, they were forcing them to make tough shots. They deserve a lot of credit for this win."

Bynum is an All-Star starter and Perkins said he thought Gasol should have been named to the All-Star team as well, but both players combined for only 36 points on 29 shot attempts. With offensive firepower coming from the likes of Kevin Durant (33 points), Russell Westbrook (19 points) and James Harden (16 points), Perkins knew that he and Ibaka would be charged with the duty of cleaning up the boards and making the night exceedingly difficult for the Lakers duo of seven-footers in the post. At the end of the night, Perkins was able to look at the stat sheet and see that the Thunder held a three rebound advantage over the Lakers, who came into the game averaging the most rebounds of any NBA team.

"I knew I had my hands full coming in, especially guarding Bynum. He's having a wonderful year this year," Perkins said. "Before the game, I told Serge, don't worry about anything on the offensive end, we have our hands full enough on the defensive end with trying to help on Kobe (Bryant) and trying to defend the post. I think we did a great job."

Not only did the Thunder bigs do a nice job of forcing Kobe Bryant to take 24 shots in order to get his 24 points, but a large part of the work was done by Daequan Cook and James Harden on the perimeter. Cook started off the night on Bryant, getting around screens and using his quickness to try to get to Bryant's preffered spots on the floor before the All-Star guard was able to do so himself. When Harden checked into the game, he used his physicality, patience and resolve to stay down on Bryant's pump fakes and force the Laker guard into difficult shots. One perfect example occurred in the fourth quarter when Harden forced Bryant into a contested, 26-foot jump shot which turned into a Thunder fast break and eventually a Perkins put-back dunk. Going into the game, Cook and the rest of the perimeter defenders knew it would take a team effort, along with a hand in Bryant's face, to defeat the Lakers and for the Thunder to win it's fifth home game in seven days.

"It was just contesting all shots," Cook said. "That's the most important thing. he's going to have a lot of moves, a lot of pump fakes. It's just important to contest all shots and try to stay in front of him. The guys are talking to you, letting you know to be in one direction, helping you with the confidence of defending him and knowing they have your back on a defensive play."

TURNING POINT:
The turning point in this one came in the third quarter, when the Thunder's lead dipped down to one point with 9:58 remaining in the quarter after a Metta World Peace 3-point jumpshot made it 51-50 Thunder. Serge Ibaka then hit a mid-range jumper while the Thunder forced two turnovers and six straight missed shots on the defensive end. During that stretch Kevin Durant and Daequan Cook hit shots, and then Westbrook found Durant for an alley-oop before Ibaka closed the run with a 19-foot jump shot. At that point the score was 63-53 Thunder, capping a 12-3 run. The Thunder never led by less than seven points the rest of the way, keeping the margin in double figures most of the way.

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Tough interior defense to start the game by Kendrick Perkins on Andrew Bynum... Perkins again with good positioning, blocking a Kobe Bryant lay-up attempt... Good box out by Daequan Cook to grab a defensive rebound... Good timing by Serge Ibaka to grab a defensive rebound at the rim... Great anticipation by Kevin Durant to steal a transition pass and take it the other way... Perfect helpside defense from Perkins and Ibaka to block a Bryant shot... Nice vision by Cook to anticipate a bad pass and grab it off the backboard... Good use of the backboard by Durant to knock down a floater... Nice job of swinging the ball across the perimeter by Harden to find Russell Westbrook for a 3-pointer... Royal Ivey harrassing the Lakers on defense then coming up with a rebound... Reggie Jackson rises up and slams over Andrew Bynum!... Nice box out by Jackson on the other end and Harden follows it up with a dish to Cole Aldrich for a lay-in... Good instincts again by Durant to make the steal, then Jackson scores on a layup on the other end... Harden with an extremely strong move at the rim in transition to score and get the foul... A beautiful lefty finish at the rim for Durant on a drive... Durant on Pau Gasol and Royal Ivey on Bryant... Perfect defense by Harden on Bryant, then Durant cleans up the air ball and dishes it to Harden for a jam... Great extension by Ibaka to reel in a defensive rebound... Tough work by Perkins to stay down and stand his ground against Bynum, then Durant tips a loose rebound to Westbrook, who starts a give-give-and-go with Harden and Durant... Smart foul by Perkins to stop a sure Bynum dunk underneath... Nice outlet pass by Perkins to get the fast break started immediately... Great vision from Perkins to find a back-cutting Westbrook, who drew a foul... Slick passing from Harden to Ibaka to draw two foul shots... Aggressive perimeter defense from Ibaka, then a huge block on the back end... Clutch 3-pointer from Westbrook to tie the game and then Durant steals the ball on the in bounds and makes it to end the half!!

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Westbrook picking up right where he left off with a jumpshot to start the third quarter... Smart defense by Ibaka to stay down on a Gasol pump fake, then Westbrtook drops one off to Cook for a 3-pointer in transition... Quick hands by Westbrook to make a steal then he nearly brings the house down but just misses a dunk over Gasol... Great defense by the Thunder as a whole to force the Lakers into a tough shot as the shot clock expired... The Thunder then forces a shot clock violation the next time down, that's 48 solid seconds of defense... Durant then hits a hanging floater in the lane while drawing a foul... Westbrook then finds Cook again for a transition 3-pointer... Westbrook makes an acrobatic play to tip a pass off of Bryant and out of bounds... The picture-perfect alley-oop from Westbrook to Durant... Tough interior defense from Perkins to play straight up against Gasol, then Westbrook swings it to Durant, who finds Ibaka for a jumper... Great box out by Ibaka to wrangle a defensive rebound... Pretty scoop shot by Durant at the bucket... A huge block by Durant on the wing, then Westbrook throws a perfect bounce pas to Durant on the break, who drops it off for Harden and a dunk!... Eric Maynor talking with Durant coming out of the timeout, possibly discussing on-court strategy... Quick, long team defense to keep the Lakers at bay, then a nice pick by Ibaka to free up Cook for a two-pointer... Strong defense inside by Mohammed to force a Bynum miss... Great hedge by Aldrich on a screen-and-role, it forced a bad pass that Harden stole to draw two foul shots... Tough defense inside by Mohammed and quick hands by Jackson to make a steal... Wonderful patience by Harden to give the ball up to Perkins, then get it back and score on a pick-and-roll... Well-executed post-up jump hook by Durant in the lane over Bryant... Amazing lower body strength from Perkins to stay straight up against Bynum, force a miss and let Westbrook and Harden explode on the fast break... Textbook defense from Westbrook and a perfect block out by Perkins to grab the defensive board... Great outlet pass by Ibaka to Harden, the Perkins cleans up the glass with a put-back dunk!... Good hustle by Perkins to get position on the offensive glass and draw a foul to negate a missed shot... Excellent defense by Harden force Bryant into a long 3-point miss, then Perkins grabs an offensive board and kicks it to Harden for a 3-pointer of his own... Just an absolutely ridiculous spinning layup in the lane while drawing the foul by Durant... The Thunder defense forcing one last turnover by Bryant on a travel in the lane... Ryan Reid then steps up in the lane and draws a charge.