THUNDER 116
LAKERS 101
5 Assists apiece for Kevin Durant and Nick Collison on the night

9 Rebounds for Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison each on the night

10 Players who scored for the Thunder tonight

27 Points for Russell Westbrook, who also had 10 assists and seven rebounds

28 Assists for the Thunder, including 10 by Russell Westbrook

39-23 Rebounding advantage for the Thunder on the afternoon

42 Points for Kevin Durant, a season-high, on 16-for-25 shooting

53 Rebounds for the Thunder, who out-rebounded the Lakers by seven



GAME IN REVIEW


RECAP:
Focus, intensity and toughness were all there for the Thunder on Friday night, and Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team used those qualities to beat the Los Angeles Lakers decisively 116-101.

After one quarter the Thunder and Lakers were tied, but Brooks’ squad out-scored the Lakers 39-23 in the second quarter, using a 14-3 run to close the first half to break the game open. The effort started on the defensive end for the Thunder, who held the Lakers to 40 percent shooting from the floor including 6-for-28 shooting from the three point line. Those defensive stops helped propel the Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook-led Thunder to a big road victory.

“It’s great, we came in tonight with a good mindset defensively and it showed for four quarters,” Westbrook said to the Thunder’s Lesley McCaslin. “I think everybody did a great job of playing together and it was a good win for us.”

Behind eight steals and six blocked shots, the Thunder made an imprint on the defensive end, then turned that effort into offensive production. Thabo Sefolosha held Kobe Bryant to 8-for-23 shooting on the night, and the Thunder ran out for opportunities that led to 51 percent shooting on the offensive end. Brooks’ club only shot 31 percent from three-point land and 68 percent from the free throw line, but behind Durant’s 42 points and Westbrook’s 27 points and 10 assists.

“We just wanted to play our brand of basketball, which is playing hard on the defensive end, rebounding, getting out and getting fast break points,” Durant said to ESPN’s Lisa Salters. “We just wanted to play up to our standard. I think our guys did a great job on the bench and our coaches did a great job of calling a good game.”

Durant’s offensive prowess was on display early and often in this one as he exploded for 25 first half points, as he shot 16-for-25 from the field on a variety of moves. He added eight rebounds and five assists throughout the night, getting teammates like Kevin Martin and Thabo Sefolosha involved. It was Durant’s ability to score from the post, from the perimeter and in transition that caused such a problem for the Lakers throughout the night.

“He’s a special player,” Martin said of Durant. “He’s the heart of our team and we just want to follow his lead. He brought a lot of intensity and to see your superstar bring intensity like that, everybody else better bring it also.”

Durant’s scoring night was scintillating, and it was only matched by Westbrook’s overall floor effort and effort. Beyond his 27 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, Westbrook registered two assists and a blocked shot and was seemingly all over the court throughout the night. As the two leaders and pillars of this Thunder team, Durant and Westbrook work fluidly together to help the Thunder play its best possible basketball on both ends of the floor.

“They’re good players and they deserve all the credit,” Brooks said. “They work hard every day. They work for everything they get. Nothing is ever given to them and they’re still going to keep improving. They’re 24 years old and they have a fantastic mindset going into practice and games. It’s a good group to coach.”

Friday night’s victory was a positive step for the Thunder, who will travel to Portland tomorrow to start a road back-to-back against the Blazers and the Phoenix Suns. After that, the Thunder will return home for one night to face the Denver Nuggets before embarking on its longest road trip of the season, a six-game west coast jaunt that will test the team on all levels. The most important factor for the Thunder, however, will be its ability to lock down on defense each and every night.

“As long as we have our defensive mindset, we’re going to always be a team that is going to compete for wins,” Brooks said.

Turning Point:
The Thunder led 50-45 with 3:16 left in the second quarter, but the Thunder went on a 14-3 run to end the first half. Russell Westbrook hit a driving layup, Kevin Durant hit a three pointer, Thabo Sefolosha drove for a dunk, then Durant made a layup from Westbrook. Kendrick Perkins then hit a hook shot and Durant hit a three pointer to end the half to give the Thunder a 64-48 lead heading into halftime. During that stretch the Thunder’s defense forced the Lakers into two turnovers and six missed shots.

“Kevin got hot and we made some good plays,” Brooks said. “The three at the end of the half was good… We kind of re-grouped later in that second quarter and we made some shots… We always play with a lot of enthusiasm. It was just a good game for us.”

Plays the box score won't show, first half:
Incredible effort by Sefolosha to hustle back in transition defense and make a steal in the open court. Great box out by Kendrick Perkins on a missed free throw to regain control of possession. Nice defense by Liggins to stop a drive and use his length to bat the ball away and make a steal. Perfect execution of the secondary break by Durant to hit Martin for a corner three. Nice recovery by Perkins to swat a layup attempt from behind in the lane.

Plays the box score won't show, second half and overtime:
Great vision by Perkins to see Westbrook off an offensive rebound and to hit him with a perfect pass for a spot-up three pointer. Durant sticks with the play and uses his length to force a turnover. Incredible toughness by Perkins to stick with the play and get an offensive rebound to feed to Durant for a jam. Nice anticipation by Martin to see an offensive rebound opportunity, then to put it back at the rim. Good concentration by Durant to slide baseline and draw a charge. Just an incredible play by Durant and Sefolsoha on a spinning drive and dish for a layup.



"We played well, we made shots and we passed the ball extremely. We shot 50 percent and then we rebounded. When we defend and rebound, we’re a pretty good team on the offensive end." – Head Coach Scott Brooks
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